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I wondered by the Oxbow Dam, and a few other areas on the Red River system last night. I caught a couple walleye 14" and under, nothing much bigger.

It is great to see the amount of 14" and under walleye being caught on the system. A very good indication the natural reproduction is doing well on the system. Since no stocking is done on the Red River, we must assume the increased number of 14" walleye is predominately due to natural reproduction. I also see it as a very good indication the spring conservation regulations are achieving there long term goals. Sustainability by maintaining the natural stocks already in the system. Keeping the whole system healthy is the ultimate goal.

One thing I would highly encourage anglers to do is pursue angling options that will ensure a low mortality rate on these young walleye. If a fish is obviously not going to make it, please harvest it, do not waist it.

Unfortunately I did see many dead walleye floating along the banks that were released in poor condition. If your rigging tends to promote gut-hooked fish, this is often the inevitable consequence.

Consider alternative yet productive hook options, such as circle hooks and/or barb-less hooks, on set rigs and jigs. This will go a long ways to promote a healthy release of fish you do not intend to harvest. Barb-less in my experience does NOT lend itself to lower catch rates. You seldom need a barbed hook to land a fish successfully.

A tip I will share is when rigging barb-less rigs/jigs is to add a tiny piece of twister tail to the hook to help keep the bait in place. Most anglers fear barb-less rigs. Largely because anglers think they can not keep a minnow on a barb-less hook, not so. By folding a small piece of twister tail over in a ribbon fashion you produce a bait retainer, while adding a bit of color to the rig. The same is true on floating jigs; this will keep the bait in place and allows for a far higher rate of healthy C&R of fish you do not intend to harvest.

This simple modification of your rigging can go a long way to promote a better future fishery by limiting undue mortality of susceptible young walleye.

Overall the fishing looks good, right on Mother Natures schedule. This week and the next couple should be interesting on the Red River basin.


Ed “Backwater Eddy” Carlson

“Backwater Guiding”


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