Two week ago we were on 28" of ice and the thought was that we would be lucky to have open water before the MN Walleye opener. That was the thought, but as mother nature loves to prove things wrong we will have open water for the walleye opener......whew! But seriously, I was thinking that it would be close but with the wind, warm temperatures and some rain it made quick work of the ice. Now, the back bays and small lakes are definitely warmer than I have seen in a while.
This weekend, the water temperatures in the bays are in the low sixties and the panfish are quickly getting into gear to spawn in the shallows. I was
surprised how high the water temperatures are so I got it into gear to scout lakes and the bites this past week for when Alie Witthans came up for the weekend so we could get some quality fish. Plus, getting some photography done with nice gills and crappies.
On Saturday we hit 2 different lakes and had success finding and catching fish. We were looking for SLAB crappies and Bull bluegills......I had my fingers crossed, but the best we could find was a 12.5" crappie and 7-8" gills. On Sunday, we hit another two lakes and with the same results with finding and catching fish, but no trophies! A little disappointed, but the best thing was we caught some quality fish and had a wonderful time trying. So, here is the what the conditions are as of this week.
The water temperatures are 58-62 degrees in the bays on the small lakes as the ice came out early in the week. On Friday of this past week, ice came off the bigger lakes and those lakes will take some time to warm, but it won't take long unless it stays warm. But looking forward this upcoming week, the temperatures look to cool down and I welcome that to help with the spawn on the smaller lakes. The crappies and gills were shallow. Look in 2-3FOW up next to the bull rushes and you'll have success. We were using a small Clam Outdoors and Northland Fishing Tackle jigs tipped with plastics. The best color was pink and white or all white with a rocket bobber float. I can't tell you how sensitive that bobber is but I wouldn't fish without one. Of course, I have used other bobbers when targeting panfish in the past, but nothing beats the rocket bobber for casting distance, bite detection, and its built well.
Looking ahead for the walleye opener, the weather looks to be cooler and of course it wouldn't be a MN walleye opener without cooler temperatures and over cast. It should be a good one and if your in the Alexandria Area, Lake Mary, Reno, Minnewaska, and Miltona should be good lakes to start your day on. I'll be on one of those lakes for sure in the morning. But in the afternoon, it will be back to scouting for panfish.
Remember to practice selective harvest especially during the spawning period. These fish are easy to target so be thoughtful of the bigger fish. Those should be released to keep the good genetics in the lake for the future fish. Until next time, be safe and we will see you in the outdoors.