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.

Posts about Walleye

Tough walleye bite during typical opener conditions

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: May 9, 2009 - 5:55 PM

Fish camp 2009 convened once again on Lake Andrusia (located just west of Cass Lake), the site of our group’s 8th annual Minnesota Fishing Opener bash staying at the Finn ‘n Feather Resort.   The weather was cold, the wind was biting, the precipitation ranged from a light mist to a steady rain with an occasional snowflake thrown in just for good measure.   Once again for the opener the weatherman promised conditions that were simply too good to be true.   We should have known better than to expect warmer, dry conditions as was predicted…after all, this is the Minnesota Fishing Opener and it usually serves as a reminder each spring that winter-like conditions are not completely a thing of the past.

The day started slow with most of our group's 15 fishermen hitting the lake at or about daybreak.   Heavy, overcast clouds with a light wind out of the NE ranging about 5 to 10mph were the conditions we dealt with during most of the day.   By noon, the group reported very limited success with only two small walleyes in the tank biting in water around 9 feet.   Later in the afternoon, we discovered a more active walleye bite hitting in the 21 to 23 foot depths using small white jigs with spot-tail shiners bounced along the bottom.   Still, it took some finesse to get the proper hook set as their bite was very light.

By the time afternoon was turning into evening our group had amassed enough walleye, a few decent perch, and a couple of nice northern to ensure our annual fish fry would be on for the evening.   Certainly it has not been the most productive opener, by any means…but fortunately the fishing action seemed to pick up as the day grew on.

As a side note, it’s my perception there appears to be fewer fishermen in general out this 2009 fishing opener weekend — likely due to the economy.   In comparison to other years, there seemed to be less boat traffic heading north, fewer boats competing on the lake, and fewer cabins occupied at the resort.   Even our fishing group that usually consists of 20 to 25 anglers was missing about 8 anglers this year due mostly to family financial challenges.

Will post another report tomorrow!   Good luck to everyone out on the lake, especially to all those mother's on their big day tomorrow.   Happy Mother's Day!!

Avoid these common opening day mistakes

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: May 3, 2009 - 10:35 AM

Are you tired of experiencing the opening day walleye fishing doldrums often caused by not having a good plan?   Is 2009 the year you finally vow to change your luck on the lake?   In most cases, avoiding some simple, yet important behavior often made by anglers can vastly improve the mood in your boat.

Remember that fishing, like any other sport, requires a good game plan to be successful.   You don’t become a player on a championship football team without some basic skills and a carefully thought out strategy to implement those talents.   Likewise, if you head to the lake expecting things will automatically happen, well my friend, you are quite possibly in for a disappointing time.

Consider avoiding these missteps when formulating your angling game plan this weekend:

  • Getting on the water too late.   Take advantage of the pre-dawn bite and avoid the congestion at the public landing.   Start your day early.
  • Failing to study your lake map.   By interpreting the lake’s structure you should have a minimum of 10 pre-determined fishing spots on the lake worth trying.   Befuddled by what the lake map should be telling you?   Now is the time to ask someone for their opinion rather than stressing about it come Saturday.
  • Don’t fish based entirely on what happened last year.   It’s an age-old problem for anglers that can lead to disappointment.   Conditions and circumstances are different from year to year so the angler who is not prepared to adapt can needlessly waste precious time.
  • Assuming all lakes will fish the same.   A big part of what makes walleye fishing fun is the technique that works in one lake may not work exactly the same in the next lake.   Approach each lake with a unique plan of action.
  • Joining a large group of boats.   It’s human nature we all want to be where the action is.   Problem is, unless you actually witness boats regularly landing fish, a large gathering of boats might better indicate where the walleye action once was perhaps an hour ago.   This is particularly true in shallow water where a large gathering of anglers can easily spook fish from the area.
  • Don’t become lazy.   Be willing to change up your technique often until you find the right combination that appeals to the fish.   This could mean your favorite way of walleye fishing may not be best suited for how the walleye are willing to bite on a particular day.
  • Disregarding the weather conditions.   Springtime weather in Minnesota can be highly variable.   The water surface can be glass-smooth at dawn and later turn into rolling whitecaps by lunchtime.   Your strategy must also adapt as the conditions fluctuate.
  • Limiting your fishing to certain depths.   Sure, it’s commonly understood that opening day walleye will generally tend to bite in shallower depths, but if they aren’t…go deeper.   Depending on the lake and the fishing pressure, hungry fish can often be found at depths outside the expected range.
  • Staying on only one lake.   Indeed, it can be a big hassle, but when all else fails trailer your boat and check out a different lake.   Sometimes this can prove to be the best strategy for the day.

So, now it’s your turn.   What information are you willing to share with fellow anglers to increase their odds for success on opening weekend?   Please leave your helpful comments below.

      

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