Pan fishing good; try the Mississippi for lots of big walleyes
What an unbelievable start to our spring -- the warmest I can remember. Water temps on our area lakes are already around 60 degrees. We were into the first week of June last year before water temps got that warm.
Area fishermen are having success with pan fish. Sunfish are active in very shallow water. You can actually site fish for them right now. They are taking small leeches, pieces of night crawler, or crappie minnows on small bright jigs or hook under a bobber.
Crappies are setting up next to spawning beds. Look for them in 8 foot water with green weed growth in areas you know that the weeds will become emergent. You will be able to trigger your bites by fishing for them as they suspend over the weed tops. Small jigs or hooks tipped with crappie minnows under a bobber or small jigs with minnows or twister tails jigged aggressively slightly above the fish will bites. Bright colors seem to work well with pan fish, especially in the early season.
I had the opportunity to jump in the boat with my good friend, Captain Greg Vandemark, a Mississippi River fishing guide. Fishing short days last Saturday and Sunday, three of us boated over 20 quality walleyes. The six best walleyes would have tipped the scales at close to 40-pounds. All the big fish were CPRed (caught, photo, and released)
We caught fish dragging light jigs on shallow sand flats off main current areas near deeper channel edges and by vertical jigging the edge of rocks as it transitions to sand in deeper water off the channel edge. The shallow bite was in 6 to 9 feet of water and jigs were tipped with a crawler. Our vertical bite was a combination of jigs tipped with crawlers and jigging with plastic paddle tails.
Pool four from Redwing to Wabasha will continue to be an improving bite until we have open walleye season on our inland waters.
If you have never fished the river, it would help to fish the first time with a guide to learn about fishing and navigating the river system. I can recommend two of my good friends and long time river fisherman. Captain Greg runs Vandy's Guide Service (507-450-8217) or Captain Randy Stevens who runs River Rat Guide Service (651-764-0002).
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)