Fishing opener 2022
With the touch and go predictions of the ice being off our lakes in the Grand Rapids area, with the warm weather, south winds, and rain predicted I think its going to happen. In 2013 we had similar conditions and the ice went off 2 days before Opener. This will be a comparable situation and we have not experienced this for several years. For many it’s been difficult to get ready and the experience has not been felt by the younger generation of ice being on our lakes this late. It’s all good and with the high water available all the landings will be manageable. Last year the drought made it very difficult to get on some of the lakes and the low water even made access to most lakes almost impossible.
Not this season and water temperatures should be in the 40’s and low 50’s on the darker water lakes. The bite for walleyes should be very good. Standard jig and minnow will be the bait of choice for most anglers, but don’t rule out other presentations to get the job done. Walleyes on most of our lakes will be either in the middle of the spawning ritual, or just getting over. Shoreline locations in depths of 4-12 feet should be target areas to concentrate on. Keep moving until you find active fish. It’s going to be very busy this coming weekend so try and find locations away from the crowds. Be courteous to others for everyone is out enjoying the tradition of Opening Day. One eighth ounce jigs are the rule of thumb with a nice fresh chub or shiner. Move it slow for the cold water tones down the pace you should be jigging. Many times dropping down to a sixteenth ounce jig with a smaller minnow will get you action when all else fails. If there are creeks flowing into the lake you fish and has gravel or small rocks on the bottom, these can be keys spots to try for ice out walleyes.
If the weather turns around and a cold from comes through, drop down to the 1st major break if you’re not catching them shallow. Many times walleyes will retreat to deeper locations until the weather stabilizes. Another presentation that can put fish in the boat is a slip bobber and minnow hooked in the tail of dorsal fin. It can be effective when the bite is off and you Spot Loc your front troller to stay in one spot. If the action slows just move a few yards down the break and continue fishing.
Trolling crank baits in low light conditions can also be a great way to contact active fish. The Northland Rumble Shiner is an excellent choice when trolling walleyes shallow and has an action walleyes can’t resist. You want to attain speeds of 1.75 to 2,25 mph for the water is still cold. Later on when the water warms you can pick up the pace. Anytime you are fishing walleyes early in the season there are other species that will also be present. Nice size yellow perch are done spawning and will be right in the mix with the walleyes and northern pike. Both species are bonus fish and will provide additional action in between walleye bites. They also are great on the table and will provide additional items for the fish fry.
When selecting the best tackle for jigging walleyes the best overall combination is spinning reels loaded up with 6 or 8 pound test premium monofilament line. Change your line from last season because there could be a residue buildup on old line that will weaken it. For a few pennies changing your line is an essential option. Light braid in weights of 6, 8 and 10 # are not only thinner than mono but also has little or no stretch. I always attach a 4-6 foot section of mono or Fluorocarbon to the braid to insure non visibility. I usually tie together with .the mono and braid with either a Uni-knot or Alberto knot to guarantee strength.
If the walleyes aren’t cooperating, crappies can be a choice also. Back bays that warm up quicker than the main lake can be your best locations for early season crappies. Look for old stickups and pencil reeds in 3-5 feet of water and keep moving until you get bit. Slip bobbers with a small jig and minnow will many times out produce anything else. Soft plastics can always be an option and one of my favorites is a small Northland Mimic Minnow. Make sure when you set your bobber your bait is at least 1-2 feet off the bottom for suspended crappies always feed up and never down. Four pound test line is all you need with a medium light 6-7 foot rod. St. Croix makes the best crappie rod available. The Elite Crappie Series in 6’8” and 7’0” is my go to rod for crappies in all situations.
Opening Day and the weeks to follow are a tradition in Minnesota that has existed for many decades and is enjoyed by veteran anglers and families alike. Join the Tradition for it is what Minnesota is known for.