This week’s Grand Rapids Fishing Report is brought to you by Tom Neustrom, owner of professional fishing guide service, MN Fishing Connections.
The clock is ticking down and we have less than 1 week until the 2021 Minnesota Fishing Opener. Hopefully you have had time to do all your yard work and get things ready to go fishing. This year we are ahead of schedule and the ice has been out for over a month. The walleye opener looks like it will be a good one, and with spawning ritual completed the fish should be in their post-spawn feeding mood and biting. I would pay attention to the shallow depths unless a cold front descends upon us as most openers have in the past. The smaller males most often will stay in the spawning areas and shallows for several weeks and are vulnerable to being caught. Concentrate on points, inside turns, and flats associated to deeper water. If you get a little wind that blows up on these areas, so much the better. Pitching, trolling or drifting jigs with a shiner or a chub can be a very efficient method of putting walleyes in the boat. If you contact several walleyes in a specific area, make sure you mark it on your GPS so you can return to the same area and try to replicate what you did previously. In shallow water I try to use as lite of a jig such as an 1/8th or even 1/16th ounce again with a shiner or chub. When you detect a bite, give them the rod tip for a few seconds before setting the hook. Many times a good search bait can be a Shad Rap trolled along the same area at about 1.75 mph. Many times you can contact fish using this method and document exactly where you caught the last fish. . Return back to that general location and fan cast the area with a jig and minnow or soft plastics. This run and gun approach can put additional walleyes in the boat.. Pay attention to water clarity and utilize water that is not relatively clear. It can make a difference early in the season and also not wanting to spook walleyes in the shallows. Trolling at
night makes a whole lot more sense if you have to fish a very clear body of water and the boat traffic is at a minimum.
As the water begins to warm into the 50’s, leeches can be a good choice on a slip bobber or jig. Most often this is a better option a week or two after opener. Pay attention to water temperature and that can tip you off when the leech bite will be a good option. Mid to high 50’s most often is what I look for. There are always other choices to entice a walleye or two. Slip sinker rigs with a fat juicy night Crawler can be just the ticket to entice a walleye with lock jaw.
Some of the good opening days lakes for walleyes are Big Bass, Bowstring, Big Cutfoot, Winnie, Sand, Big Splithand, and the Mississippi River. Any of these choices can be good to excellent for the opener. Bait shops in the Grand Rapids area should have ample supplies of live bait, but it doesn’t hurt to call ahead to be on the safe side. !000 Lakes Sports, River Rat Bait, Fred’s Bait, Winnie One Stop, and Max Minni Store are all good locations for bait and good information before you set out on opener and after.
Make sure you remember to put your plug in the boat before you launch and remove and drain when you trailer your boat at the end of the day. Assist the AIS inspectors at the landing to clean any weeds or other contaminants at the landing. They are there to help keep our lakes clean from invasive species.
Opening Day is a wonderful ritual in Minnesota. Be safe and have a wonderful 2021 season.