Sunday, March 15, 2015

Early open water opportunities are here now and walleyes are biting.


River fishing is open and the walleye are biting. The action should continue to get better over the next several weeks. The Mississippi river to the south and Rainy river to the north are VERY popular stops. Both rivers have OPEN walleye fishing seasons right now. The Mississippi river below the St. Croix doesn't close to walleye fishing as its because its considered "Border Waters", where all of our inland lakes are currently closed. This makes for fantastic fishing as the water warms. With our early warm up and lack of snow, these rivers will open early and should stay at moderate to low flow, which should result in an extended spring fishing season unless mother nature drops a bunch of precipitation on us.

I just made a run south over the weekend while making stops on Pool 2 and 5, as well as checking out the various accesses on Pool 4. The water temps were 34-37 degrees and the fish cooperated but were definitely in a neutral mood for most of the weekend. The best bite for sure happened Friday morning when I made a stop on Pool 2, very near downtown St Paul. Here, I met up with Brian Berle of Whitecap Splash Guards, and good friend and master angler Brian Morris. Brian and Brian both know their way around the river within the BIG CITY limits.The report was good from earlier in the week and the excitement levels were through the roof. I couldn't wait to get on the water and and get my first opportunity to get a hook set in Lund.  Brian's recap of the day pretty much NAILS it!

Brian Morris -

The sights and smells of spring are best experienced next to or on a river, preferably a river with pre-spawn walleyes occupying the areas near our jigs.  Always amazing to me is the quality of fish located in such an urban environment, success story for catch and release.  After learning that Toby was making the trip out of the North woods, and into the concrete jungle for his first March experience on this stretch of river, I had that honored feeling of being there with him.  The man at the tiller I had not met before, but was equally qualified on this pool as myself.  I knew that before catching the first fish, I knew that by watching his actions while graphing spots I have caught giants on in the past, while making the run to where we both knew it was going to happen.  Let us just say the team had been assembled in last minute fashion, but confidence was high.  Arriving at the area where fish are staging up and seeing them on the electronics, it was crystal clear they were in a good mood.  Many fish were called out before actually eating our jigs.  We had a very respectable average size fish for the day with many 23-24” walleyes.  Brian Berle put himself on a classic 27” pre-spawn beauty, after I went back to back on 5 pounders, and Toby was on a steady grind of 24-26” fish, all in the first 2 hours.  I have fished this stretch of river for many years. It is one of those highly volatile areas involving swift current, high water, excessive debris and city style angling pressure.  Some years by the time we can get a boat in, the river is 24 hours from blowing its banks and is actually quite dangerous.  Thankfully, we do not have that situation this year and the fishing was nice and relaxing.  Always a great day to meet a new friend, share the great river with an old friend and catch a pile of hard hitting/strong river walleye.  Starting the season on a perfect scenario and now it’s time to ride the madness of Spring addictions!!

 Mississippi River Pool 2 and 5a  Fishing Report:

Jigs and fathead minnows produced fish throughout the river system . Dragging or holding jigs just off the bottom while drifting with the current at .7mph worked well with bright colors. With clear water conditions and low flow, keeping the jigs away from the boat boosted our success. 1/8th oz jigs in 13-17ft worked well on Pool 2, while 1/4 oz seemed to be better in pool 5a where fish were scattered in depths between 22-25ft on the edges of the River Channel outside the Wing Dams.

Snap jigging up river provided action when the bite slowed. 3/8ths oz Ken Katch Long Shank jig with an extra wide gap allows for better hook ups
when snap jigging. The longer shank will let you hook your bait out the gill and up through the       belly pinning the minnow on the jig with plenty of barb left out the back. Without a doubt, one of the biggest factors in finding fish on the rivers this year will be finding fresh fish that aren't pressured. Popular areas below the dams are obvious fish spots that hold fish, but these are also the areas that draw the most pressure. Try fishing at low light or at night to get a leg up on all of the competition. With the clear waters, this will continue to be a fantastic time to be on the water. 

Mississippi Pool 4 and Lake Pepin

Pool 4 is by far the busiest of the open water pools. As of today, there were several accesses open in this pool. Colvill Park and Everts Resort landings are open. Colvill Park on the South End of Redwing has two accesses and lots of parking.
Fishing reports were that fishing during the daylight hours was pretty slow over the weekend. Lots of boats on the water. Those who stayed late (after dark) had the best luck. Bigger fish are being caught on sand and clam beds after dark with a dragging jig being the best technique.

Click on the above link for the daily fishing and access report from Clementson Resort.

The river is currently open 8 miles from Birchdale access. In two-three days we will start to see smaller boats being launched over the shore ice. Hopefully in a week or two the counties will have some of the accesses cleared for larger boats.
-Clemenetson Resort

Spring river fishing is a great opportunity to get on the water for some world class walleye fishing. Some of the biggest walleyes of the year will be caught during these times. The big girls really put the feedbag on before spawn. It's very important that we use great care when handling these special fish. Make sure to leave the fish in the water as much as possible. Have your camera ready before bringing the fish out of the water. 
By all means take a few home for dinner if allowed by law, but be selective please.

Good Luck and Be Safe and Patient on the water. 

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