Anderson: Ice is out, and fish are biting

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 24, 2013 - 12:58 AM

Anglers during the long weekend should have ample opportunities to make up for the opener’s chilly conditions.


Mille Lacs is not only a great walleye and muskie lake, but home to a good-sized population of smallmouth bass, many of them big.

People who have a chance to get on the water over the coming long weekend will generally find good fishing statewide — a statement that couldn’t be made until recent days because of the late spring and lousy weather.

Here’s a breakdown:

Mille Lacs: “Fishing’s been phenomenal,” said Terry Thurmer of Terry’s Boat Harbor. Most walleyes are being taken in 5-16 feet of water on jigs and minnows. Shiners and rainbows are working better than fatheads, and in the last hour or so of the day, dragging Rapalas or other crankbaits in bays are producing walleyes. Some leeches are taking fish, but mostly it’s been a minnow bite on rock piles. Reasonable numbers of walleyes in the 18-20 inch harvest slot are being caught and kept. “Two of those produces as big a meal as four of the smaller walleyes we were allowed last year,” Thurmer said. The limit is two. But two in the 18-20 inch range is enough.

Minnetonka: Crappie action has picked up, and is best in the evenings. Fish are in the shallows, and a cautious approach is warranted with the lake’s clear water, said Tim Sonenstahl of Wayzata Bait and Tackle. Most walleye action has been at night. Jigs and minnows or minnows with Twister Tails produce, with fish being caught in 3-9 feet on or near sand flats heated by the sun during the day. The bass opener is Saturday, with the best fishing expected in protected bays with cuts and dark bottoms.

Winnibigoshish: Fishing was tough here on the opener (as my party can attest), but has improved considerably. This week’s rain and cold cut into anglers’ fishing time. But plenty of walleyes have been found in water 10 feet or less, with most in 5-6 feet. Sugar Point and Sugar Bay have been good, and anywhere in front of the Cutfoot Sioux gap has produced limits. With weather stabilizing, fishing this weekend should be good.

Chisago Lakes area: Crappie action is good on Chisago Lake and South Lindstrom, with fish moving into shallow, warm bays. Crappies also are being caught by walleye fishermen in 12-14 feet of water, also in Chisago and South Lindstrom. The bass opener will generate a lot of boats on the water, with good action expected throughout the area. But bass are behind and not on their beds yet. “It still should be a good opener,” said Brad Dusenka of Frankie’s Bait in Chisago City. North Center is producing walleyes, some in 8-16 feet during the day, and in shallow sand at night. On South Lindstrom try the saddle bar between Rose Hill Resort and the swimming beach.

Lake of the Woods: Yes, the ice is gone, said Gregg Hennum, owner of Sportsman’s Lodge near Baudette. Anglers have moved onto the lake, and many are fishing jigs and frozen shiners while anchored. A few are drifting spinners also, Hennum said.

“People are fishing right outside the Gap in 8-14 feet of water,” Hennum said. “There’s been good fishing by Pine Island as well.” Resorts at or near the Northwest Angle are just now becoming fully operative. For the first time in recent memory, island operations such as Sportsman’s partner resort, Oak Island Lodge, couldn’t be reached on the Minnesota walleye opener because of the late ice-out. First guests are arriving now, Hennum said, with excellent walleye fishing reported already by guides and local residents.

Rainy Lake: The ice went out a week ago, said Billy Dougherty of Rainy Lake Houseboats. The early bite has “been better than normal, really good, actually,” Dougherty said. Walleyes are being caught in 5-7 feet in current, and shallower — 3-4 feet — on gravel beds. “We’re also finding fish in 15-22 feet, on the breaks on the edges of current,” Dougherty said. Bass are behind and haven’t come in yet to spawn. “Last year our best bass fishing began May 20,” he said. “This year it will probably be mid-June.” Jig fishing has produced northerns and whitefish, in addition to walleyes. Water temperature in the main lake is 41 degrees, with bays at 48. Wherever current can be found, the temperature is in the 42-43 range.

Leech Lake: Ice went fully out May 15, a bummer obviously for those planning to fish Leech on the May 11 opener. But fishing has been good since, despite inclement weather, reports Ray Phillippi of Big Rock Resort in Horseshoe Bay. Windblown points have been best, with anglers willing to suffer recent east winds finding good action. “Most walleyes are being taken on a jig and minnow, mostly fatheads,” Phillippi said. “We haven’t had a lot of shiners available, so it’s been fatheads, but they’ve been working.” Grassy Point, Stony Point and Sucker Bay have produced walleyes. Many are being found in 4-8 feet of water over rocks, “though start a little deeper,” Phillippi said.


Dennis Anderson

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question