Another "opener" has came and went without a lot of anglers finding a good walleye bite. The good thing is the panfish bite is there to give anglers something to target after a long winter. With water temps climbing faster than I've ever seen it won't be long before the walleyes are in their normal pattern. Many lakes have went from ice off to temps in the mid to high 50s in a short time. This week guiding starts for me, so I'm looking forward to a great summer meeting new clients and getting to fish with my fellow guides at S & W Bait.
Introducing kids into the world of hunting when it's cold and hoping a deer comes by before they get cold can be challenging. That's why last weekend we started them off with turkey hunting. Four lucky hunters from the Boys and Girls Club of Bemidji made the trip to Park Rapids to try something new to them. Actually it would all be new to them.
So it's finally time to make the switch from ice to open water. With the opener coming fast I should be getting the boat rigged but there is one problem—it's time to chase some turkeys. This weekend we are doing a hunt for the Boys and Girls Club for some first time hunters, with toms gobbling pretty good I have some high hopes for this hunt. Then hopefully Tammy and I can go chase some birds next week before guiding takes over.
Let's just hope with spring finally here that I was wrong about having open water for the opener. The late ice crappie bite has really heated up but I don't think I've ever seen ice deteriorate so quickly. From trucks to open shorelines in a week is pretty crazy. Maybe one more trip for some panfish but I'm ready for something different, luckily turkey season is here and I've got some anxious first time hunters to take out and see if they can bag their first Tom.
This week, instead of fighting literally hundreds of boats on the Rainy River, I decided to try something new. Sitting on 2 feet of ice, only a few miles from total chaos, I'm the only one out here. Hoping to land a giant sturgeon through a hole, so far a few walleyes and a bunch of pike is all that has been biting. There is no mistaking it on the locator, there are some sturgeon swimming by but not really interested in biting. But it's nice to just be away from everything and have some alone time.
Unless you are an avid winter lover or someone who can't get enough ice fishing, this is getting a little old. Last year at this time I already had a few days of open water fishing, not only on the Rainy River but actually out on Lake of the Woods. But this year there is still 40-plus inches of ice on the lake yet. Last week there were two landings open and now with sheet ice forming its back down to one. So for anyone going be prepared for a long cold wait at the landing.
I know we go through this every few years but yes, I'm ready for spring. Even though the crappie bite has been pretty good and we haven't even begun to lose any ice, the best of the late ice bite is yet to come. But as of today there are two accesses open on the Rainy River so that's where I'll be heading, as soon as I can get the boat out and get rigged without getting covered with snow.
I do not think I've ever spent so much time on the ice without putting a line in the water as last week. Last Saturday my wife Tammy and her tournament partner Carla Bahr competed in the Women Only Ice Fishing Tournament hosted by Women Anglers of Minnesota, which took place on Gull Lake. It would be the first time they fished together and it would turn out they would make a pretty good team. With a very tough bite they spent the day trying new spots and looking for bigger fish.
If you are wanting to chase walleyes or northerns you only have a day or two left to do it. So what does that leave until ice out? For most anglers they switch gears to panfish. But what if you still want to chase big fish? There are actually a few options, northern pike angling on Mille Lacs is still open, along with all kinds of trout fishing. And if you still need to get some walleye action Lake of the Woods is just a quick four hours away.
Well, either Minnesotans are tougher than most or we've all been brainwashed into thinking that anything above zero is warm. But that's just the way you have to think this winter if you want to go fishing. Even though we have plenty of ice fishing in front of us I have to admit I have been starting to plan some open water trips already. As I sat on a small lake last weekend after drilling holes everywhere, I just thought how much easier I could of covered the lake in my boat. Nevertheless that won't happen for a while so it's back in the fish house I go.