If you are a walleye angler like me, the opening day of Minnesota's gamefish season is one of the year's most-anticipated days! With that day just about here, having a good opening day and early-season plan can mean the difference between spring fishing success and frustration.
I took my new bow out and shot it the other day. That might not be newsworthy, but it signals two things for me. First, winter is over, at least in my mind. And second, it's time to start preparing for next fall's archery season. Here is a look back at a couple things I learned last fall and a look ahead to the coming bowhunting seasons. They do "duck the string!"
Open-water fishing opportunities are starting to happen across the Midwest. One goal that I have coming into this season is to be more observant for changes that affect fish location and behavior. In my experiences, reacting to change is often key to fishing success. For example, one big change that is noticeable in many lakes is the increased water clarity often encountered. Spreading zebra mussel populations often get the blame for increased water clarity.
At least half of winter is in the rearview mirror now and that means that open water is nearing! While some of the year's best ice fishing is still ahead at late ice, now is also the time I start preparing for open-water. Tackle Inventory I average five days a week on the water as an open-water guide. The neat, organized tackle boxes of opening day become a distant memory by summer. While I try to reorganize a bit at the end of every trip, the situation gradually gets worse as the season progresses.
Good fortune has allowed me to have two careers involving education. Twenty years as a physical education teacher and coach and now several more as a fishing educator have allowed me the opportunity to educate, and learn from, others, particularly kids. When discussing "today's kids," I sometimes hear comments like "kids sure have changed" or "they spend too much time on their phones!" Interesting comments, but more on that later.
Recently, I was fortunate to get in on a couple of really good ice bites. One bite was on Big Stone Lake for perch and big bluegills. The other was on Upper Red Lake for walleyes. Different species and different baits, but both trips had one common theme—the need to get away from the crowds to find the most active fish.
My favorite part of ice fishing is sitting on top of fish and trying to trick them into biting! Here are some things I have learned from many winter days spent trying to trick fish. First things first. Winter anglers use baits, regardless of the fish species sought, that they lift, drop, quiver, etc. in an effort to attract fish and get them to bite. The process of moving the jig to attract fish and entice them to bite is referred to as jigging. So, this article revolves around keys, as I see them, for jigging up winter fish! Sonar rules
The best time to catch winter walleyes is usually during the first few weeks after safe ice first forms as walleyes are often still feeding aggressively. Mid-winter, on the other hand, often means a tougher bite as the fish become more lethargic. Here are some suggestions for capitalizing on the good early ice bite that's happening right now! Find them first Finding walleyes is key, regardless the season they are pursued.
Typically, my stories involve tips for putting more fish in the boat, or an occasional hunting adventure recap. A couple recent outdoor experiences have me thinking on a bit deeper, or at least more philosophical, level. In very late October, a partner and I filmed a smallmouth bass fishing television show. During that shoot, my fishing wasn't "clean" as we like to say, missing several hooksets and losing a couple big fish near the net. The following day, I went back to the same lake.
As I write this in late October, hopes are still high for a few more nice and productive open-water fishing days this season. However, the late fall weather could turn and the lakes ice over any day now. With that in mind, now is a good time to look back and reflect on the past year and lessons learned on the water that could lead to more fish in the boat in the future. Here are some things that quickly come to mind from 2018, things that this angler will keep in mind moving forward! Things change, for whatever reason