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Mike Frisch: Think spring

Mike Frisch holds up a walleye he caught during the open-water fishing season. Frisch is already thinking spring with warm temperatures across much of Minnesota. (Submitted photo)

I know it's still winter and some of the year's best ice fishing action happens during the late ice period. However, February is also the month I start planning for open water.

Yes, the traditional inland Minnesota fishing opener, a.k.a. "the walleye opener," is still three months away. But come March, anglers willing to travel and brave early spring's unpredictable weather are often fishing from boats chasing walleyes in various river systems across the Midwest. Whether you are a traveling early-spring walleye chaser, or content to wait for May, now is a good time to start preparing for spring. Here are some things you can do to be ready for open water fishing.


One thing that makes fishing more fun is not having equipment hassles.

One of the most common equipment complaints I hear from anglers revolves around unmanageable fishing line. One way to prevent that is to start the season with fresh line spooled on your rods.

Particularly when using monofilament or fluorocarbon lines, line left on a spool for months often develops "memory," which can lead to tangles, coils and knots that can ruin a trip. With that in mind, now is a great time to get your open water rods and reels out, take off the old line, and re-spool with new line. Not only will fresh line be more user-friendly, but it also greatly decreases the odds of a line nick or fray that can cause the year's first walleye to break off during the fight.


Another great task to complete now is the re-organization of tackle boxes.

During the busy fishing season, tackle boxes often become unorganized, and favorite lures sometimes get lost or misplaced, often at the most inconvenient times! Now is the time to reorganize, take inventory, and restock those tackle boxes. Plus, most major fishing retailers have good supplies of open water tackle, new product included, that help insure that we can find what we are looking for. Not only is this a good task to complete now, but it is also one of my favorites because it's exciting to "scratch my open water itch" by spending time browsing and buying new fishing tackle.


Often during fall I look back on the nearly complete open water season and realize I missed out on a hot bite or bites because I got too busy or didn't plan well enough.

With that in mind, now is also the time when I look ahead at my calendar and think about some of my favorite fishing destinations and the best times to be there and make plans accordingly. For example, one of my favorite bites is the spring walleye bite on spot-tail shiners that occurs on Ottertail Lake and several other Minnesota lakes. Last year, I missed out on that bite because of other commitments. I've already made plans to not let that happen this year! Planning trips now, relining rods and reels, and restocking tackle boxes are February tasks that can make every open-water angler's fishing trips more successful.

As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!

Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more "fishy" stuff.