Looking forward to open water
This article will be just a bit of a shotgun approach to disseminating information this week. First, one last reminder that permanent fish houses need to be off the lakes by the end of the day Monday, March 7 for any of the lakes south of highways 10 and 34.
An important reminder to all fishermen in our area is that the bass, northern and walleye seasons are closed now for inland waters. This year's closing date was Feb. 27. You can continue to fish for sunfish, crappies, perch, and whitefish. The 2010 licenses are good through the end of April. New licenses for 2011 are now available and they will be good through the end of April 2012.
Border waters between Canada and Minnesota and Wisconsin and Minnesota still have open seasons for bass, northern, and walleye. Your 2010 license is also good for fishing these waters until the end of April. Check your regulations book if you are planning a trip to a border water location, as there are some very specific size and limit regulations for different waters along these borders.
Ice conditions are about as good as they have been all winter in our area now. Travel has been no problem, and we have a lot of ice to melt before we see any open water. The way the forecast looks, we will continue to have good ice fishing in our area for the next two weeks.
Lake of the Woods is one of the most popular destinations for ice fishing this time of year, and the reports continue to be good for catching walleyes and saugers. The big northern pike bite will be starting to heat up at Lake of the Woods also.
You will want to look to get your bait locally before making any of these trips. The cost and availability of bait at these destinations always seem to be an issue.
For open water opportunities available now, you have pools 4 and 5 of the Mississippi River and the Missouri River at Bismarck, N.D. The Rainy River is always a popular early season open water fishing destination with an active walleye bite. The season is open from the time you can get a boat on the open water until midnight on April 14. The way the river ice conditions look at this time, and the cool temperatures forecast in that area for the next week, it looks to be the middle of March for that option. The walleye limit at Rainy River is two fish under 19.5 inches per person. Most fishermen don't chase that walleye bite for food.
After the walleye run, some fisherman like to return to catch the lake sturgeon. That season starts April 24 and is open until May 7. Most will catch and release, but you can get a tag and keep one sturgeon per angler (45-50" or over 75").
My "March Madness" isn't as much about tournament time sports as it is about my anticipation of being able to get back on open water!
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)