Brad Laabs: To catch the fish, follow their food

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs

Welcome to June in Minnesota. The weather has been extreme over the last week or two, but fish have continued to bite, some days better than others.

We have had high winds, thunderstorms, rain, and hot-humid-bright sunshine days, all in just this last week. We have ranged from air temps in the 50s to the 90s. Water temps had reached 70 degrees, but dropped back to the high 60-degree range with the current cold front. Look for water to get into the low 70s by next week.

I am asked often, “what is better, the morning or the evenings for fishing?” Sometimes there is “a morning bite” or “an evening bite,” but most often that is not the factor. Weather is the key. Prefrontal conditions, or day two or three of stable weather are more significant.

The wind, barometer, cloud cover (or lack of cover), water temps, bug hatches, water clarity, and angle of the sun all play a major role in helping or hurting fish activity levels. We are starting the transition to summer patterns for fish, so life in the lake with fish and bug hatches, as well as weed growth and increasing water temperatures will reposition fish. To stay on fish -- follow the food!

Bugs have started to hatch and some fish are transitioning from minnows to the new hatches. The shiner minnow run is done, but there are still many young perch up shallow, and so are a population of walleyes feeding in the 7-14 foot depths.


Cabbage weeds are holding fish, but not all cabbage is equal, if fish don’t bite right away, move to the next patch. Jigs and minnows-plastics, rigs and minnows-leeches-crawlers, spinners and slow death, and raps are all taking fish.

Bass are shallow on shoreline targets and on inside and outside weed edges, depending on the weather. Jigs and plastics, spinners-spoons, and cranks are all getting reaction bites.

Crappies are biting jigs and minnows-plastics fished in 9-13 feet of water, fished aggressively, or spinners fished on outside weed edges at .8 to 1.1 mph.

Northern pike are aggressive in the 7-15 foot depths fished any way you prefer to catch them.

Sunfish are still shallow relating to developing green weeds and can be caught on small jigs tipped with plastic tails-wax worms-pieces of night crawler or small leeches. Getting the right size is the challenge.

With the nice weather and schools (covid-style to end the year!) done, the lakes will be busy with pleasure boaters, pontoons, jet skiers, wake boarders, ski boats, and other fishermen. Be respectful on the water and at the accesses. Practice boat wake awareness and responsibility for how your boating affects others on the water.

Good luck, muskie anglers, with this Saturday's opener!

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)


What To Read Next
Get Local