This past week really was no different than the one before. Weather-wise, we were still in cold front stages. Some areas of the Northland were having nights well below freezing. That leaves water temperatures in open lakes still high 30s and low 40's and fish activity has been slow.
I do think all of Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes will be ready just in time for the general fishing seasons to kick off. Hard to believe it, the Wisconsin opener is May 2 and Minnesota’s May 9.
This last week we again stayed closer to home and fished local inland waters on the new boat. Fishing was so-so, but it was good to see the DNR out working the waters as we got checked and had a chance to catch up with the boys in uniform.
Unfortunately we were informed that they don't really know when the public docks will be installed around the area. I guess we will just have to wait and see. They also wanted to know where we were from and if I was guiding. Both questions reflecting the “stay at home rules.” Currently there is a ban on guiding. Again, we will just have to wait and see.
Lake Superior continues to be the most popular destination for anglers. The boat launches through the North Shore and Wisconsin areas are seeing a good amount of traffic. Last weekend we were told the city of Bayfield had about as much fishing pressure as a busy summer day. Same goes for the North Shore, as many people both local and from out of town toured the popular scenic spots on the shores of the Gitch.
Mix in the smelt run that is just starting to go and who knows what revised “stay at home” rules may pop up in the next week or two. As for the bite, fish are certainly targeting the near shore smelt schools. Best to utilize baits that mimic a smelt. This pattern holds true from Chequamegon Bay to Two Harbors. Word on the smelt is they are just starting to show up in the rivers after dark. By this time next week, I am willing to bet it will have already peaked.
Stream fishing was also very busy this last week. Both the North Shore streams and the Brule River saw many angling hours. Most reported a slow bite, but some found some success drifting egg patterns under strike indicators. At least the stream flow levels are getting back to normal levels.
The St. Louis River is seeing a tiny amount of boat traffic, mostly in the harbor area where anglers are launching from Loons Foot or Rices and heading to and from Lake Superior. No fishing report to speak of at this point for the river, but we are getting closer.
Inland waters in and around Duluth/Superior are mostly still fresh from ice-out or are still holding some ice. We have been targeting the warmest waters we can find. So far the highest water temp we have seen is 43 degrees. For the most part lakes are still very cold. Best to target the same areas you left off with late ice angling, at least until we see anything of a warmup.
We found some success with crappie minnows and slow drift-jigging over deep mid-lake basins this last week. Some crappies were as deep as 25 feet. We are just started to see walleyes take to the rivers, creeks and streams to spawn. Our good friends in the Hayward area sent us some pictures for proof. Just a couple more weeks and game on.
Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide (houstonsguideservice.com) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.