Spring is in the air and so are thoughts of big fish and intense rod bends with screaming reels. Ready or not, here comes open water fishing. Now is the time to get the proper preparations out of the way.
Make sure you have your new fishing license(s), boat registration updated, PFD's, rods re-strung, reels lubricated, and tackle organized. Starting with the Wisconsin opening weekend, open water opportunities are available. Public docks at boat ramps may not be (best to bring some rubber boots or waders for launching/loading boats and have a buddy to help).
Anglers may need to look more south for open water. Look for waters that have bottle necks and current, these areas will certainly be ice free. Minnesota opener will be further along for ice-outs, but make no mistake, ice is rotting very rapidly all around our area. In most cases, shorelines to the North free up first. Something to think about when looking for a lake to try. Water temps will be cold, so it is encouraged to wear your life jackets. Although there will be many ways to catch some fish, it’s hard to beat a simple Jig and Minnow this time of year.
Lake Superior is having a great bite going on in the Arrowhead region. Fish are being caught on both the North Shore and South Shore. Down rigging is not necessary with the cold-water temps. Anglers are catching plenty of fish trolling hard sided baits in bright orange and greens. Our go-to is a long-lined scatter rap, trolled 150 feet back off a planer board. Another successful tactic has been lead core fishing straight off back of boat. Depths have not mattered much as most fish have been feeding close to surface.
Smelt action is in the preliminary stages but reports of south shore smelters are finding some success. Runs are not thick yet, but they are getting better each night. North shore rivers should be green lighted this coming week.
Stream fishing has been decent for some fresh Lake Superior Steelhead on the move. Best bet has been spawn under a float.
St. Louis River is ice free for the most part. Anglers are starting to catch a few nice crappies over typical back bay waters that are heating up. Rough fish have been going well with good catches of fresh water drum, catfish and suckers. Of course, accidental catches of walleyes have been coming here and there, but it is not fast and furious yet. We are still a little behind on the Lake Superior run.
In-land lakes are still transitioning to open water. Many smaller shallow lakes are open or are very close. Pan fishing has been on the slow side, which is typical this time of year with the change. Look for back bays to heat up and bring in some pan fish in the coming weeks. Tough to beat a small hair jig under a float in shallow water. One thing is for certain the season is finally changing and us anglers couldn't be happier. Are we ready? The answer is a big fat YES.