ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Now is the time of year when I really start to get anxious for open water.
I’ve had lots of fun on the ice, but a few warm mid-winter days had me looking forward to open water again.
Here are three of my favorite bites, one from each open water season, that I hope to capitalize on this coming season.
Casting shallow rocks during spring: Big Stone Lake
Big Stone Lake, on the Minnesota/South Dakota border, no longer has a “closed season” for gamefish such as walleyes, northern pike and bass.
For that reason, I am hoping for an early April ice out, which means I can make the short trip west from my home several times to get a jump on the traditional inland Minnesota walleye season that opens on May 15 this year.
Big Stone’s early-season walleyes are often pre-spawn and hungrily roaming the lake’s rocky shorelines looking for baitfish. The bite often starts up north and moves south as the water warms and some of the fish migrate down the lake.
The somewhat steeper, rocky shorelines on the South Dakota side seem to attract hungry fish as they use the shoreline’s rock wall to trap baitfish along. A simple jig and minnow combination worked slowly along the rocks is often productive. However, some of the bigger fish I caught last spring from Big Stone came on a jig and Rage Swimmer swimbait combination cast and retrieved back to the boat.
It is often sound advice to stay on the move looking for active fish when targeting Big Stone’s spring walleyes.
To learn more about the Big Stone area, visit www.bigstonelake.com.
Casting the summer weedlines: Alexandria Lakes Area
July and August can be challenging times for walleye and panfish anglers as the good shallow bites of early season for these species have passed.
The heat of summer, however, is often prime time for largemouth bass fishing, particularly those roaming lush, deep weedlines. Midwest anglers would be hard pressed to find an area with more lakes with better deep weedlines, and with more bass than the Alexandria area has.
The famed “Alex Chain” is a prime example, but there are a variety of other lakes, both big and small, in the area that host excellent largemouth bass populations as well.
A simple way to fish these lakes is to hold the boat just out from the deep weedline and cast mid-to-deep-diving crankbaits ahead and along the weedlines and reel them back to the boat. The Pro Model crankbaits come in a variety of sizes for effectively targeting weedlines in various water depths. Plus, these baits come in baitfish-imitating patterns like bluegill, sunfish, and perch patterns that mimic the baitfish that Alexandria area bass feed on.
More regarding the Alexandria lakes area can be learned by visiting www.ExploreAlex.com.
Casting the rock reefs during fall: Kabetogama Lake
I have fished Kabetogama Lake in Voyageurs National Park one time during fall for smallmouth bass, and that is a mistake!
The mistake being that I haven’t found time to go back, as the very biggest smallmouth bass of my life (in the 6-pound range) came in the boat on my very first cast of that trip.
I was fishing with Tim Snyder, who guides on KAB, and "Fishing the Midwest" TV founder Bob Jensen. The three of us caught a bunch of other smallmouth in the 3-to-6 pound category in just a few hours that day.
We targeted rock reefs in deep basins that the smallmouth bass were roaming on, feeding aggressively in preparation for winter. Tim and Bob cast jig and minnow combinations, while I used finesse plastics fished on drop-shots rigs. I don’t think bait choice mattered much, as these fish were flat out aggressive!
Plus, that evening and the next day, Tim put us on an excellent bite for big walleyes too.
For more information regarding KAB, visit www.kabetogama.com.
As always, good luck on the water this season and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the "Fishing the Midwest" TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com to see all things Fishing the Midwest.