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'Pig' walleyes on the Rainy River

I went to the Rainy River to fish walleyes on Wednesday and Thursday. The season stays open for walleye fishing until April 14.The spring fishing on the Rainy River provides an opportunity to catch trophy sized walleye.

This trip we were greeted with good weather, excellent river conditions and co-operative fish. We caught and released about 100 walleye for the two days. We were fortunate enough to also catch 6 walleyes 28 inches or bigger. My buddy, Neil, caught a 30.25 inch monster walleye on Wednesday for our big fish, and Thursday we both landed 29 inchers for the biggest of the day. We would have landed even more of these brutes, but I had a big one come unbuttoned on me Wednesday and a couple on Thursday. That happens some times with those big girls.

On Wednesday we caught many walleyes in the 16 to 19 inch size range (and of course Neil's pig walleye). On Thursday we caught about 30 smaller fish, a dozen or more 15 to 20 inch fish, and a half dozen from 26 to 29 inches.

We had visited with a number of other anglers and heard about a couple of walleyes as big as 32 inches caught as well as other 30 to 31 inch fish.

If you want a chance at a trophy, there is still time to get up to Rainy River and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity provided by our state. You can only harvest 2 walleyes under 19.5 inches to take home to eat. You don't go up there to catch fish for the frying pan -- you CPR (catch, photo, release) these fish.

We caught our fish vertical jigging the channel edges with jigs and rainbow chub minnows. We also anchored at the up river edge of deep water holes in the river and pitched our jig and minnow offering to the deeper water and jigged with success.

The Mississippi is available for year round fishing at pool 4 in Red Wing. The water is still high and will be safe and fishable in another week to 10 days. The Missouri River is in good shape and also available. In our immediate area, we will be ice free in a few days and this will open up the chance to get back out for pan fish. We are experiencing early ice out all over the state. Let's hope the weather continues to move us toward summer. I think we are all ready for more days in the boat this season.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)