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Minnesota Fish Tales Fishing Report
The Most In-Depth Statewide Fishing Report in Minnesota!

Fish Tales Archive

© 2018 OutdoorsWeekly.com - Copyright Info

- Ben's Bait & Tackle
Bennet or Craig Stich, Junction of Hwy 78 and 210 (218-864-5596)

5-2- Area lakes are mostly ice-free and should be open by this weekend. Stop in our shop for the latest in bait and weekly fishing reports!

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- Veire's Mini-Mart - Visit our Facebook Page
Dave, 117 E Benton St, corner of Hwy 75 and 14 (507-368-4204)

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- Timberline Sport & Tackle
Carl Adams, Junction of Hwy 71 and Blackduck Lake Rd. (218-835-4636)

5-2-Blackduck Lake is opening up quickly and we predict it will be ice-free for the fishing opener. Gull, Rabideau and most smaller area lakes are now open. Stop in for a report and some bait!

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- Leisure Outdoor Adventures - www.leisureoutdooradventures.com
Jason Freed, Toby Kvalevog, Jeff Andersen (1-855-LOA-HOOK or 1-855-562-4665)

5-2- Well, our team of fishing guides are amped up for the open water season. This year our fishing guides will cover every corner of Central Minnesota from Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Cass Lake, Brainerd Lakes Area, Woman Lake, Hackensack, Longville, Winnibigoshish, and in between.  We are busily prepping gear, getting our new boats in the water, and filling up our guide calendars with trips.  As we are getting closer here is quick write up on current conditions a some little pieces of advice as Opener nears.

We are approaching that time of year where everyone sets out in search of that fish that makes us come back each and every year the second weekend of May. 2018 is setting up to be another banner year on Leech Lake, Cass Lake, Mille Lacs, Woman, Winnibigoshish, Brainerd Lakes, and the surrounding area lakes.  With us just being a few days away just a few quick reminders. Next week we will give you a few more tidbits and a current lake report. Right now most lakes are still covered but with the recent warm temps and wind combined with some rain it is sure looking like we will have Open Water.

Leech Lake - 90% ice covered but slowly going.  With this warm weather, rain, and wind it is looking better and better we will be fishing Leech on Opener.

Mille Lacs - Same as Leech

Brainerd Lakes - Many smallers lakes are starting to open up.  Gull is 80% ice but it is going fast as well.

Hackensack and Longville Area - Like the Brainerd area many smaller lakes are getting close to opening.  

This week will be the week that lets us know how it is all going to set up for Opener.

Some helpful advice as you are getting ready and thinking about Opener:

  1. Be patient - The major lakes are going to be super busy as are the boat accesses.  Be patient and don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand if something needs it at the boat access.  Many of the common fishing spots will be loaded with boats as well.
  2. If we get bright skies and minimal wind be ready to adapt - Leech is a wind driven lake and that helps fishing alot, but when it is sunny and the wind is minimal adjusting your speed and getting more aggressive is often the key to triggering fish.  
  3. Try to fish away from the crowds - Fish will be shallow and many boats in the same area will push fish to the outskirts of that area or look to fish common structure that just doesn’t have as many boats.  
  4. Jigs and Jigs - Typically this time of a year it is tough to beat an 1/8th oz jig and shiner.  Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try a jig and rainbow, jig and a plastic, or even a lindy rig at times.  
  5. Have fun! - Great time of year to be on the lake, the weather is going to be amazing, and the fish should be snapping!
  6. Be sure to have your boat all ready to go - Make sure you have life jackets, throwable, fire extinguisher, all safety equipment, and you have ran your boat before getting to the access. Nothing is more frustrated than sitting at the landing because you forgot something or your motor won't start.

In terms of Leech Lake think about any wind driven areas will produce the best.  Leech is known for going where the wind blows so wind blown shorelines, points, and neck down areas will all be good starting locations.  I would key in on 6-8 feet if you have wind and may need to slide out deeper if not. Look for bait on your sonar, because most often than not you will not mark fish that shallow.  Keep an keen eye on your electronics for bait fish, because there is where the walleyes will be.


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- Minnesota Fishing Guide Service
www.minnesotaguideservice.com - www.minnesotaicefishhouserental.com
Capt Josh Hagemeister (320-291-0708)

5-2- With water temps around the state hovering around 55-60 it has been easy to find just about any panfish in the shallows feeding, getting ready to spawn. No real secrets here folks, just practice selective harvest so there are fish to catch 5 years from now.  Walleyes can be found roaming the shallow flats outside spawning areas, primary shoreline breaks, newly sprouted weed lines, or using current areas (inflowing creeks/rivers).  In either case, trolling smaller shiner colored crankbaits will produce.  Look for the fish on the first drop off out from shore during the day.  An  1/8 oz. blue/white or green jig tipped with a shiner minnow will do the trick. Drag the bait on the bottom at slow to medium speed.  Lotsa Fish! Lotsa Fun!

- Frankie's Live Bait and Marine - www.frankies.net
Brad, Corner of Hwy 8 and CR 77 (651-257-6334)

5-2- On Chisago and area lakes, the channels are your best bet for some early spring crappie action. Lakes are melting and should be completely open by the weekend.

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- Marine General - www.marinegeneral.com
1501 London Road, on the edge of Lake Superior (218-724-8833)

5-2 - The shorelines are open and lakes are melting. On Lake Superior, anglers are fishing from shore near the French River and the Two Harbors area and are catching kamloops and salmon. The smelt run is picking up now. Give us a call for daily reports!

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- Babe's Bait and Tackle - BabesBaitEly.com
500 Kawishiwi Trail, Ely, MN, first business on the left as you are entering town of Ely from the west on Hwy 169 (218-365-6930)

5-14- The season opener started off very well for most anglers. There was some tension among many that the ice would be off the lakes before the season started, but Mother Nature came through and warmed things up enough to clear the lakes just in time.
Basswood Lake led the pack in success rates this year as in most, with some truly great catches of walleyes and northern pike. Rainbow chub minnows were THE bait to have due to the cold water temps, and anglers just couldn't be happier with the results. A good portion of the fish caught were in relatively shallow water near shore, and this is probably due to the late ice out and the shallows warming up quickly in the sun.
Fall Lake had it's usual flotilla of boats congregated around the power dam, and anglers were doing fine, although there were many undersized fish to be released. Minnows were the best option on a jig fished in and around the rock piles. Some anglers fished areas away from the crowds and found fish to their satisfaction elsewhere. Once again the fish were in the shallows.
White Iron Lake had it's usual herd of fishermen clustered around the area where the Kawishiwi River river enters on the southern portion of the lake. A lot of undersized fish were cooperating, but those who persevered managed to extract enough walleyes out of the size slot to fill their stringers.
Burntside Lake surprised a few anglers with lake trout willing to smack both spoons and larger crank baits trolled in twenty to thirty feet of water.
If you've never fished the Ely area lakes, there's no better time than now to plan your next fishing expedition here.

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- Fish On Bait & Sport www.habitatnow.com
Kyle, 201 S Franklin St, 2 blocks south of stoplights in Glenwood (320-634-3667)

Visit the Habitat Outlet on line at www.HabitatNOW.com for all your habitat needs.  Fish On!

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Swanson's Bait & Tackle - www.swansonsbait.com
Caleb Garoutte, Hwy 371 on the north end of Hackensack (218-675-6176)

5-14-Well at least we had open water for fishing opener! Fishing wasn't easy across the area with the bait shortages we saw this year and cold water temps. As the water warms up we should see some better action along with better bait availability!

The best action came from late in the day and into the evening when the water was warmest. We heard a lot of good reports trolling and casting crankbaits and other artificials up onto shallow structure. The guys short lining fish in shallow water didn't do well as the fish were a little spooky. Targeting them from well off the structure improved the chances - finesse was definitely the ticket. Some of the points up around the Pine Point area on Leech produced, and some of the east bays put out some walleye too. Walker Bay was slow over the weekend along with many of the smaller area lakes. 

Crappie action was great around the area, maybe even a little early for some of the lakes. We saw bites being better in the evening and even in the middle of the day when the water was warmest. Tight into the shallow structure like docks and downed trees has been were they've been holding. Plastics worked for the most part, but when they were really holding tight, plopping a small slip bobber and a dangling crappie minnow was usually enough to lure them out from cover.

There were a few guys targeting bass over the weekend for the catch and release season, and some real monster pre-spawn fish were boated. Big largemouth and big smallmouth both were being caught out of Portage, Mule, Stony, and Woman Lake. Slow techniques were most consistent, but some pockets would produce aggressive fish.

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- Gateway Store kabfishingreport.com - gatewaygeneral.com
Jason and Robyn Cooper, US Hwy 53 & Co Rd 122, 30 miles south of Int'l Falls-Canadian border (218-875-2121)

5-14- To say the 2018 fishing season started with a bang would be an understatement.

With just about everyone catching limits of fish it could be one of the best openers in years.  Most years the start of the season on Kab can be a head scratcher, but not this one.  Fish were being found in most depths and were hungry to say the least.

Dock and shoreline anglers seemed to fair best with the bigger fish and those in a little deeper water were finding more of the eater variety.  If you could find shiners at your local bait shop, you got lucky as very few had them.  Even though shiners were producing more fish, all minnow types did well.  Jig fishing was by far your best option.  Tip your favorite jig with any minnow you could find and it was game on!  All techniques were working whether you were jigging under a bobber, over the side of the boat or pitching the shorelines.  Early and late in the day were peak times to be on the water but there was a consistent bite throughout the day which made for a few sunburned faces and tired anglers.  

Northern pike were a nuisance as usual, but it was the size that made the difference.  Last years pesky 20 inchers are now that perfect 23-26 inch eater size and no one is complaining losing a few minnows to them.

Throw in the almost perfect weather and we had a banner start to which could be shaping up to be one of the best years we have seen on Kab!  The only negative aspect to the great weather is we are extremely dry so bonfires need to be kept in check.  Check with local authorities before having a fire as we were in a critical fire warning designated area yesterday.

With the late ice out waterfowl including hundreds of loons, are still migrating through which is making for some great bird watching while catching fish or enjoying a boat ride.  A few pelicans have made an appearance but it is obvious they are behind schedule as well.

Let's hope the fishing continues to be as hot as the the weather forecast!  Be safe out there, it's a long season and we are all just getting our boats in the water for the first time.  It may take a few boat rides to get our sea legs under us again!

​On a final note make sure to pop your head into Gateway General as we have a new look and a lot more to offer.  Made to order subs have been a big hit as well as our hand scooped ice cream and new F'real ice cream machine that can make you a smoothie, milkshake or iced coffee!  We also have expanded our tackle, groceries, hardware and gift selection.  We have also have begun to add some award winning wildlife mounts done by Bob Christensen with more on the way.  It's your one stop place on the way to the cabin or before you go out on the lake!

Hope to see you soon!

Jason and Robyn
Gateway General

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- Lake of the Woods Area Tourism Bureau - www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
near Junction of Hwy 11 and Hwy 172 in Baudette, (1-800-382-FISH)

5-14- The MN Fishing Opener was a success with strong numbers of walleyes and saugers caught. A jig and a frozen shiner was the ticket while anchored up. Lots of fish stacked in shallows. Lots of big girls mixed in with keeper walleyes and saugers. Anywhere from 10-20 feet holding fish. Water on the lake and river is about 2 feet low, pay attention if cruising shallows. 
Rainy River was on fire this weekend. Reports of 100 fish days. Anglers who remained mobile and searched for the fish were rewarded. Lots of big females caught. Jig and a frozen shiner being bounced off bottom working well. Sturgeon fishing closed May 16- June 30.  Keep season opens again July 1 - Sep 30.

Up at the NW Angle... Much like the south shore, anglers using a jig and a minnow along shore lines were catching walleyes of all sizes. The angle area is ice free.  Some boats have already navigated from the south shore to NW Angle. A complete list of lodging, fishing packages, how to's, and info for spring fishing are available at www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com/Lodging.

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- Sportsman's Lodges, Lake of the Woods, Rainy River - www.sportsmanslodges.com (1-800-862-8602)

5-9 - All measures pointing to a fantastic opener this year. It has been a cool spring and late spawn this year. We expect the walleyes to be stacked up in the shallows, bays and river. The Rainy River is open, many bays and outside Pine Island/Lighthouse Gap up to a few miles right now has open water and we expect the lake to open up more in the next few days. Miles of fishable areas are open.

We are getting some rain today (forecasting ¼ inch) and winds gusting up to 20 mph. The rest of the week looks dry but gusts up to 20mph tomorrow too. This should do some well needed damage to the ice. Opener forecast is looking good, calling for highs in the mid 60's, partly cloudy and light and variable wind. Water level is low and clarity this weekend was about a foot in the river. Water temperature today is 54 degrees and current is slower than average.

Rigging Up
A jig and a shiner or chub are a good choice for Saturday. Do a little bouncing off bottom in shallow waters, river and bays.  Start off your weekend early with pike and sturgeon fishing. Pike season is open all year on Lake of the Woods and sturgeon season catch and release is open now through May 15.  Pike are hitting on jigs with a smelt sitting on the bottom or crankbaits in the shallow bays.  Sturgeon are being found in the deep holes of the river and bays using a 4/0 or 5/0 hook, 2-4 ounce no roll sinker, gob of worms and a little something for smell like a shiner or two. Lots of fishing opportunities abound.

2018 Sturgeon Tournament was a hit!
We enjoyed another fun tournament this past weekend. Like our Facebook page and check out all of the highlights on our page.

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- Sportsman's Oak Island Lodge, NW Angle/Oak Island, MN - www.oakislandlodge.com (800-772-8411)

5-9- Yippee! We have open water! 
Just in time for the Minnesota walleye opener, we now have open water from Young's Bay to the lodge. The mail came out by boat for the first day since November yesterday. Check out the video on our Facebook page

We expect fishing to be great in shallow. A jig and a minnow should be all you need to reel in supper. Water temp is currently 52 degrees. The weather forecast is looking good. 

We still have ice to our south but the warm temps in the forecast, wind and rain should chew up the ice fairly quickly. Lots of areas to fish this week and next week Ontario walleye season opens up on May 19. Openings still available Memorial Weekend and throughout the summer. 

Give us a call 800-772-8411 or email us to start planning your getaway. Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!

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- Anderson's Resorts - www.andersonsleech-lake.com
Tim, (1-800-516-0077) spirit@arvig.net (e-mail) 

If you have not booked your vacation up on Leech Lake give us a call and we will do everything to help make your dreams come true! Tim and Sue, Spirit of the North Resort www.andersonsleech-lake.com 

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- Chris Kuduk's Guide Service - www.kuduksguideservice.com
For up to the minute reports, call Chris at 320-630-1761!

Mille Lacs has a great tullibie bite going! We caught a bunch of them out at the 9-mile hole. Big crappies are biting in the bays during the afternoon/evening bite. Give Lundeen's or your local resort a call for current conditions. Platte, Sullivan, Shakopee, Knife and Anne have a great panfish bite going. Osakis also producing some panfish. Chris has a few openings for tullibie and perch guide trips! Please call Chris anytime for up-to-the-minute fishing reports. Listen to Chris and Stan live for a weekly fishing report from 5-6 pm Saturdays on Outdoor Adventures on www.twincitiesnewstalk.com (iheart Radio)! Or listen to the podcast!

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- Wayzata Bait & Tackle
Tim or Bob, half mile west off I-494 on Hwy 12 (952-473-2227)

5-2- On Minnetonka, the shorelines, small bays and channels are opening up, still some ice on the main lake as of May 2. Smaller area lakes are open and ice-free. Check with us for daily updates! Call or stop in opening weekend on where to fish!

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- Turk Gierke, Croixsippi Guide Service

May 9, 2018.  It is appearing that the winter hold over on nature is gone as the rains are falling, grass is green, trees have leaves, and yellow dandelions are sunning themselves. Fish are busting on the top water and making splashes as they eat other fish, and on the many of the river species are roaming the sand looking for prey.  It looks like spring is here.

David with a morning limit of 16 to 18' walleye
David with a morning limit of 16 to 18″ walleye.  Great trip nice and quiet morning.David with our morning trip best walleye.
David with our morning trip best walleye. The bite today was light and you had to feel them to catch them!

May 8, 2018

I am having to mix it up to find fish this season. Its a big river and this time of year they have to be biting somewhere. I met Jon down south and found eaters.

Jon with a one man limit -two walleyes and four saugers from a half day trip. We caught white bass, moon eye (no relation...) , sheepshead, a smallies, crappie and something that was the size of a submarine that we never saw! Fun mooring trip.
Jon with a one man limit -two walleyes and four saugers from a half day trip. We caught white bass, moon eye (no relation…) , sheepshead, a smallies, crappie and something that was the size of a submarine that we never saw! Fun morning trip.

The No Wake zone has been a rough one this time. Normally I can pick a good launch spot and the no wake isn’t a killer becuase the fish are not far from the launch, but this first week with the slow bite made the No Wake as I said tough on the fishing – as it took the options off the table of making a run to a different stretch of the river.  Thats over with in about 10 hours and its big motor time again.

Big flathead caught walleye fishing. 6 lb line test.
Big flathead caught walleye fishing. 6 lb line test.Andy with a flathead caught while jigging. Things are changing fast but up to this point its been odd. Maybe just a mega post spawn funk.
Andy with a flathead caught while jigging.
Things are changing fast but up to this point its been odd. Maybe just a mega post spawn funk.

River fishing has surprises

Don with a slab crappie. The river has pleasant surprises like this slab crappie.
Don with a slab crappie. The river has pleasant surprises like this slab crappie.

Fatheads and crawlers in 10 to 20 feet of water. They are spread out.

I am feeling it that the bite will change for the better real quick. St. Croix water level is 683.00 and dropping, water temp was 57 degrees.  NO WAKE river wide should be removed soon.

Have fun and enjoy the river!

Signed, Charlie “Turk” Gierke

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- Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, Josh Severtson, www.smokeyhills.com
Park Rapids, Minnesota (218-237-5099)

Crappie are grouped together between 16-32 feet of water, not quite into the shallows for the spring time. Looking for a Northland "Impulse tungsten jig" tipped with a crappie minnow or waxworm for best luck! Sunfish are in or around the weeds in 8-16 feet or any kind of structure. Looking for a VMC "Tungsten Fly Jig" paired with a wax work or spike to fill the limit!

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- Wheaton Service & Bait    www.wheatonservice.com
Neighbor Steve, 912 Broadway, Wheaton, MN (320-563-1400)

Lake Traverse, on the MN/SD border, is on fire! The walleye bite has been great, as well as the other species of fish we catch on our quest for walleye:) Water temps are relatively cool for this time of the year. Wheaton Service bait shop is relocating to Hwy 75 in Wheaton. Way better location, You will be able to drive right into our new lot pulling a boat, no hassles like our old location. Like always, Wheaton Service will have the "Best Bait in Town" and we always have up to date info on the bite that is going on on Lake Traverse. Our website will remain the same until our new shop is up and running. Wheaton Service will once again be building lite weight fish houses this fall. Our houses brand is Fishin' Hole Lodges. Lite weight skid houses, all aluminum, We use the same 3m tape that Yetti uses on their houses, less screws, makes for a great finished look! Available in most any color. The average 6x8 is $3,795.00 and weights about 360 lbs.Check us out at wheatonservice.com... 320 563-1400 Ask for Steve! Take a Kid Fishin!

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Mase's In Towne Marine - www.intownemarina.com
Cindy, corner of Lake and Elm (952-442-2096)

5-4- In Towne Marina Lake Waconia Report - Shop/Access remain temporarily closed.

The record has been broken. Lake Waconia ice-out has never been later. The official ice-out is today, May 4th. Due to the extremely late start to the open-water season, our bait shop and access will remain closed for an interim period of time while we begin constructing our marina docks. We will update mid-next week with any potential opening hours for both our bait shop and access.

It takes several weeks for us to complete work needed to safely use our docks. We appreciate everyone’s patience during this time as there will be periodic disruptions moving heavy dock equipment from our parking lot into the lake that we normally don’t have to worry about this time of year.

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- Walleye Visions - www.mnfishingconnections.com
Tom Neustrom, 21622 Airport Rd, Grand Rapids, tom@mnfishingconnections.com, (218-327-2312)

Look for perch action to heat up! The crappie and bluegill fishing has been decent on Little Cutfoot. Get out and enjoy the winter fishing opportunities that Big Winnie has to offer.

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