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Brad Laabs column: Got the bug? Lots of fishing opportunities in the region

I made a mistake in last week's article. I was reminding anglers of all the upcoming important dates to remember including re-licensing, fish house removal, and closing of the inland gamefish angling season. I mistakenly wrote March 26 instead of February 26. Hopefully you remembered from a couple weeks prior when I reminded local anglers of the upcoming February 26 date!

Opps, sorry! If you have some interest in continuing to chase gamefish through the ice, you can travel to Lake of the Woods, as that is open until April 14, or Devils Lake, N.D, as that never closes. Both should have fishable ice for at least three more weeks.

If the ice is poor after that at Lake of the Woods, you will probably be able to fish the Rainy River in a boat from the end of the month until April 14.

The Lake of the Woods bite is very good now for walleyes and saugers. The big northern pike bite, which Lake of the Woods is famous for near the end of the ice season, has already started and will just keep getting better. The tullibee chasers are having success, and more anglers are also starting to target the increasing popularity of eelpout.

Locally, the crappies, sunfish, and perch get most of the attention now, with tullibee chasers also hitting the peak of their activity.

If you are getting the itch to get the boat on the water, there are several options available. The Missouri River at Chamberlin, S.D., has already had anglers having walleye success for several weeks on the open river there. That bite will continue until we have open water here, and the weather is always warmer there than we are here.

The Mississippi River pool 4 at Red Wing is open all year long, and has a good walleye and sauger fishing.

The Illinois River near Peru and Spring Valley Illinois is highly-recognized sauger fishery in March and April, with a mix of walleyes in the system as well.

And as I mentioned earlier, typically starting the last week of March or so, the Rainy River will be open with a walleye season that lasts until April 14. The walleye season is then followed by the sturgeon fishing season on the Rainy River. That river (the Rainy) gets busy in the spring due to the quality of the fishing for both species.

If you are patient, it won't be long until you can float a boat locally, and chase the early season open water panfish. The average ice-out is around the third week in April, and a week after ice out, the water warms enough to start bringing the crappies and sunfish into shallow water spawning areas to get ready for doing their thing.

We are already into the March calendar and things can change quickly now. I am making the call now—.we are going to be earlier with our ice-out than most years again this year.