Minnesota’s fishing season hits full stride over the week of July 4th. So we asked for advice from an assortment of local guides and denizens. They shared choice lakes and methods they’ll use in the coming week to catch walleyes, bass, crappies, bluegills, perch and northern pike.
Brainerd-Nisswa. Marv Koep, former bait shop owner and guide for 50 years.
Walleye fishing on Whitefish Lake north of Breezy Point has been good. Try back-trolling with a Lindy Rig tipped with a redtail chub minnow. From 8 a.m. until noon, the best bite has been right along weed lines in 10 to 12 feet of water.
In almost any area lakes right now, walleyes aren’t in deep water. They should be up against the weeds.
Crappie fishing has been good on Gladstone Lake southeast of Nisswa and Upper Mission and Lower Mission lakes. Wilson Bay on Gull Lake also has been producing nice crappies. To catch them during the day, drop a lightweight, white jig with a white, plastic twister tail into cabbage weeds in about 12 feet of water. Don’t tip the jigs with minnows until evening.
Detroit Lakes. Andrew Slette, guide and state record-holder for largest released muskie.
Strong fishing throughout the area, including Big Pine Lake, where the walleye bite is picking up on Jigging Raps in perch or “Firetiger’’ colors. Use monofilament line and tie a barrel swivel 2 or 3 feet above the lure. Fish along weed lines and out from them but not deeper than 24 feet right now. Pitch the jig away from the boat, rip it, let it settle and repeat until it’s vertical aside the boat. Jig vertically a few times.
The walleye bite on Lida Lake also has been good. Lindy Rigs with minnows along weed edges are working, but the bite on slip-bobber rigs is fading.
Starting this week, local anglers will troll at night with crankbaits, dragging them above flat areas 6 to 12 feet deep. Release 50-100 feet of line and don’t use weights on the line. Cormorant Lake is a good one for this walleye technique, but it’s not worth trying until the moon is out.
Chanhassen. Pat “BaitShop” Albers of Minnesota Valley In-Fisherman Club.
On Lake Minnewashta, cast small spinnerbaits (one-eighth of an ounce) over weedy areas where the tops of the plants are 3 feet under the surface to catch bass and northerns.
Try a white-colored lure. Fish these same waters in lowlight periods at dawn or dusk by casting and retrieving black or dark-colored buzz baits.
Another bass and northern technique on Minnewashta is to throw crankbaits and spoons outside weed lines, parallel to the weed edge. Work the lures a foot or two outside the weed line in 12 to 18 feet of water.
Last week, bluegills were still on spawning beds. For catch and release, anglers rigged lines with tiny split-shot, small hooks and wax worms.
Sunfish also were caught on tiny jigs tipped with an artificial niblet.
Crappies were suspended above a big underwater hump on the north end of the lake. Crappies were hitting soft-rubber crappie scrubs hooked to 16th-ounce jigs.
Grand Rapids. Guide Tom Neustrom of Minnesota Fishing Connections.
Expect strong daytime smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Pokegama and Trout Lake. Try a “Neko’’ rig. Start with a short, straight-shank, bait-keeper style hook. Take a fat, soft-rubber worm and insert a nail or small fishing weight into one end of the bait.
On the other end of the worm, bury the hook about one-fourth of the way down. The base of the hook should be in line with the worm and the barb should be exposed.
Pitch the rig toward shoreline and let it sink straight down. It will resemble a feeding minnow.
To work the bait, twitch it occasionally to attract a strike. Keep moving to new locations.
Lake Vermilion. Dave Schaeffer of Schaeffer’s Guide Service.
Mayflies have started to hatch, but anglers shouldn’t be discouraged. For walleyes, you can’t beat dragging a crawler on a Lindy Rig or jigging with half a crawler. Try depths of 18 to 24 feet.
Another live bait option is a black jig (16th-ounce) tipped with a leech and let it hang under a slip-bobber rig just above the bottom in depths of 10 to 14 feet.
For evening walleye fishing, troll around any island on the lake from 8:30 p.m. until dark with a smallish crankbait (two trebles). Stick to silver or gold lures.
For smallmouth bass, try Senkos (plastic worms) rigged wacky style with a hook through the middle so that the worm is flopping at a 90-degree angle to the line. Flip against the shoreline and work them back toward the boat.
Bemidji-Walker. Bryan “Beef” Sathre of Fathead Guide Service.
The walleye bite on Lake Winnibigoshish is clearly better than a year ago.
Leech Lake’s walleyes were very slow to turn on but are now showing up. On both lakes, try pulling snells with beads and spinning blades, tipped with leeches. Boat speeds of 1.3 to 1.5 mph trigger the most bites.
Also for walleyes on these lakes, troll with small crankbaits (two sets of trebles) during lowlight periods over reefs that are 6 to 8 feet under the lake surface. Run the boat at 2 mph with at least 60 feet of line behind you.
To fish for perch on Lake Bemidji, pitch a jig and minnow into cabbage or right along the vegetation’s edge. Perch fishing has been tremendous.
On Leech, fish for perch around midlake structure at 15 to 20 feet.
Willmar. Kelly Morrell, guided Gov. Mark Dayton on the 2018 Fishing Opener.
Bass and bluegills are “feeding up” after a late spawning season.
As recently as Tuesday, most fishing on Green Lake was concentrated in shallow areas. But bass are shifting toward summer haunts in deeper water, so look for them around submerged humps.
Look for bluegills wherever you find deep cabbage.
Minnetonka-Waconia. Guide Travis Frank of Trophy Encounters.
Walleyes, bass, northern pike, crappies and sunnies are all bunched up in the weeds. The all-around feeding behavior is “really aggressive.’’
Bass are schooling up on the outside weed edges, and that’s a good place to start fishing. Fish hard-bottom areas next to weeds. In some bays, that means you’ll be fishing in 20 feet of water. But in the majority of spots, weed growth stops at a water depth of around 15 feet.
Easiest rig is a jig and ample-sized minnow. Leeches and crawlers get stripped too easily. Stay close to the weeds and keep moving. Open pockets surrounded by weeds are especially good.