Jim Braaten

Jim Braaten lives near Kenyon, Minn., and has been an avid outdoorsman for more than 35 years. He lives on the family farm that was first settled by his ancestors 152 years ago. He has been an outdoors writer and photographer, and he owns a business producing and marketing calendars.

Changing conditions required a flexible approach for opening day walleye

Posted by: Jim Braaten under Fishing Updated: May 16, 2010 - 2:01 AM

BEMIDJI, Minnesota — For the 9th consecutive year my fishing group has opened the Minnesota fishing season on Lake Andrusia, a moderately sized Minnesota lake located just west of Cass Lake connected by the Mississippi River flowage. Our past experience has found this lake generally proves to be productive for the opener as we have never failed to achieve enough fish for our much anticipated opening day evening fish fry. Fortunately, this year was no exception. 

Pleasant early morning conditions greet 2010 Minnesota fishing opener anglers.

Pleasant early morning conditions greet 2010 Minnesota fishing opener anglers.

The day started off wonderful with nary a cloud in the sky and only a slight breeze barely creating a ripple on the lake surface. Perfect morning to head out on the lake with only a light coat and no need for the usual opening day rainwear or gloves. What proved to be comfortable conditions for early spring fishermen eventually gave way to walleye on the move and fishermen guessing what strategy to try next. Techniques that seemed to work 30 minutes earlier suddenly would turn quiet. The key to success seemed to be fishermen willing to be flexible in their presentation keeping a watchful eye to the ever changing conditions. 

At daybreak fishermen were finding walleye in 5’ to 8’ depths by drifting over rock points and sunken island areas. Lindy rigs tipped with a shiner seemed to work well early for some fishermen.

As the sun became more intense, plenty of fish were then later marked at depths ranging from 16’ to 22’ most prevalent around the steeper structure drop-offs. Vertical jigging was productive, but nothing worked with any predictable consistency. Throughout the day wind speeds varied greatly and the direction was constantly shifting. The early morning clear skies later turned partly cloudy and at times offered a brief respite from the bright sun.

Short-sleeve t-shirts, not parkas or rainwear, was the preferred attire for the day.

Short-sleeve t-shirts, not parkas or rainwear, was the preferred attire for the day.

There were some fish marked on the sonar at depths exceeding 30’, but they did not appear to be active. Later in the day most fish were caught from depths ranging 10’ to 16.’

About the only thing that seemed to be consistent throughout the day was the choice of bait. Shiners were in and leeches were definitely not the ticket—at least not for our group of 20 fishermen. Chartreuse was a productive color, but by no means was this the only effective jig color.

A common complaint among several fishermen were the missed bites which either means angling skills are a bit rusty coming off winter or the walleye bite was a bit light — or possibly both.

The day ended almost the same way it started with near glass-smooth water and clearing skies. Again, with the changing weather conditions the walleye bite tailed off and one-by-one the boats started heading toward our Finn’n Feather Resort cabin. That action didn’t necessarily signal the end of our first big day of fishing in 2010. Nope, instead it meant the fishermen sensed it was soon supper time and once again for the Minnesota fishing opener we were blessed to have fresh-caught walleye as our group’s featured menu item.

Few things in life taste better than freshly caught fish from a northern Minnesota lake.

Few things in life taste better than freshly caught fish from a northern Minnesota lake.

 

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