Brad Laabs: As temps climb, fish are transitioning to deeper water

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Brad Laabs

Water temperatures have climbed to the mid to high 60-degree range and will continue to climb with this warmer weather and sunshine.

Walleyes continued to be shallow in six to13 feet of water this week, and they are still feeding on shiner minnows. The shiner bite will probably be done by the end of the weekend.

Leeches and crawlers have also produced, as fish are also keying in on all the new bug hatches. Pulling spinners and working jig raps or trolling crank baits will become productive as water temperatures continue to climb. Look for the walleyes to slide deeper off the flats and move out to long, extending points and bars. Fish will transition to deeper water and mid-lake structure this next week.

Crappies have moved off the spawning beds and slid from two to 6 feet of water to seven to 12 feet of water. Aggressive techniques, like snapping jigs and plastics, or pulling spinners or beetle spins, are producing.

Cabbage weed is always a good option this time of the season for locating crappies and sunfish (as well as walleyes at times). Plan on catching bass and northern pike when you employ these techniques in the shallower water, as they are on the bite and aggressive shallow now as well.


We are still a week away from the muskie anglers getting into the action in shallow water. This last week we have had a couple muskie on when fishing shallow water with minnows on Big Detroit and Lake Sallie.

One 50-inch muskie grabbed an 18-inch walleye that was being reeled in after biting a leech under a slip bobber. He had it like a bone in his mouth and didn’t let go until we made a play for him (or her) with the net. From the number of muskie sightings in shallow water this last week while fishing other species, it looks like the muskie anglers are going to be happy with their activity level starting next Saturday.

The F-M Walleye Club held the Pelican Lake Spring Classic Tournament last Friday and Saturday. The format was catch, record, release so all the fish were returned immediately after they were caught by the tournament anglers.

Due to this type of format, the teams were able to count the top six biggest fish they recorded each day, and were not limited to only two over 20 inches counting toward their weight. The lake showed it is healthy with walleyes, and the timing was right for the tournament as the big girls were biting.

A total of 49 teams participated and nine teams finished with 60 or more pounds for the two days! The winning team of Brian Halvorson and Brad Neyens blew the field away with a whopping 78.25 pounds! The father/son team of Brian and Joey Bjorkman was second with 66.30 pounds (Brian is a professional walleye touring angler from Fargo), and third place was pinned down by Mike Huber and Ryan Kulla with 64.41 pounds. Amazing weights for one of our local lakes caught by experienced walleye anglers.

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