Randin Olson, Lock Jaw Guide Service
Unless you live in Duluth, spring is here! The weather is warming up and the water is following suit. This means the fishing is heating up as well! Water temps across the lakes area still vary but for the most part they are all in the low to mid 50’s with some bays touching the 60 mark. Bass, Walleye, Pike, and Panfish are all strapping on the feedbag to recover from and/or prepare for the spawn. This is good news if your looking to catch some fish for a grease release party. Although there are a few fish packing up and heading towards there summertime cabins, most of the fish are all still in the shallows. This means aggressive tactics will prevail and you will be rewarded, if you do your homework.
Although largemouth and smallmouth bass are still catch and release only, they are in there pre-spawn feeding frenzy right now. These fish are staging up on the first break lines just outside of there future spawning grounds. Spinnerbaits, Jigs, Chatterbaits, and top-waters will all produce fish but covering water until you locate a pod is key. Look to the entrance of a bay, inside weedlines near a shallow bullrush flat, or even along a cattail edge.
Walleye still remain in the shallow flats near spawning grounds. With the shinner spawn still lingering, these fish are spread out and prowling for their next meal. We are starting to see some big girls coming back to the shallows to feed as well. Rip jigging an 1/8 or 1/4oz jig tipped with a shinner or soft plastic will trigger these fish to bite. On calm days, or on lakes with gin clear water, try rigging up a bottom bouncer with a shallow stick bait in tow and move out to the break line. Look over the side of the boat and determine which depth you can no longer see bottom and start your trolling run in that depth.
Pike are patrolling these same flats and bays that the walleye and bass are using. Also any newly emerging weed growth is paramount in finding slimers, especially big slimers this time of year. Spoons, spinnerbaits, cranks, and jig and minnows will all produce right now. To help with bite offs, try tying on a 5ft heavy flourocarbon leader to your main line. The flourocarbon is stiff which will aid in avoiding lure fouling, and is abrasive resistant.
Panfish Paradise is reaching new highs. Crappie and Sunfish are moved into there nesting grounds and soaking up the rays. Bullrush beds and shallow back bays are warming up fast and make a perfect spot for panfish to begin there yearly ritual of spawning. The water will need to warm up before they start, but they are there and willing to eat. My go to presentation this time of year is a small tube jig hanging under a float. Don’t be afraid to loose a jig or two as sometimes you need to get right in the thick stuff to trip their trigger. Most area lakes will have a few fisher people on the normal panfish spots so you will have a little bit of a head start if your new to the lake.
Spring is a wonderful time of year to try new tactics and new waters. The fish are mostly shallow and in predictable locations. There are 1,048 lakes in Otter Tail County, so don’t be afraid to try a new body of water. If you would like to hop in my boat and just sit back and catch fish, you can call or visit my Facebook page to book your trip.
As always, Tight Lines and heavy nets!
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