Only a week to go for before the Minnesota walleye/northern opener.
The water is warming slowly, but is climbing. Warming water temperatures will help with opening weekend success. The walleyes have finished their spawn and the females have started to transition from spawning areas.
Look for the eating-sized males to still be relating to spawning areas. Most lakes will have a population of fish relating to shallow warmer water. They will be there for comfort and food.
Jigs and minnows/plastics is always a great option for prying early season fish followed closely by slip float fishing and live bait rigging (Lindy or Roach rigging).
Look for areas with hard sand bottom, gravel and rock, or clam beds that are close to green weed areas. Most fish will be up on the edges or the flats that are close to the first break (shore line breaks) to deeper water.
Casting light jigs, slip bobbers with hooks or jigs tipped with minnows or leeches, or long lining jigs or bait rigs tipped with minnows/leech/crawlers can get the job done.
Openers can be tough, as typically the bite improves as the weather improves, not to mention we are heading out to start the season with no recent history and finding the first one is key.
Spot tail shiners are an early season favorite food for walleyes, but may be hard to come by for some of the bait shops this opener. With the early ice off, it would have been hard to imagine the shiner run would be so slow to get going this year, but the cold spring has stalled their run and spawn so fall.
Other minnows will work, but it is hard to beat a spot tail on the jig during the first couple of weeks of the walleye season. Other minnows, leeches, and night crawlers will be available and they will work. Many anglers have confidence in the minnow imitating plastic baits, and they are known for working in cold water conditions.
Shore anglers got some great news! The public fishing pier that got stalled out getting installed last year due to covid, is now in at Lake Sallie at Dunton Locks County Park and ready for use.
The wait has been worth it as the pier is a beautiful addition to fishing the Lake Sallie side of the park. The river outlet location is great for the opportunity to catch multi-species from its location. A huge thank you to the individuals and organizations that donated to getting the fishing pier back in its rightful, historic place after some years of absence.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)
RELATED: See more Brad Laabs fishing columns here