I am not sure whats the deal with Mother Nature this spring, but she sure seems to have it for us sportsmen and women! The has been nothing short of crazy and in the last week we have seen ranges from the low 90’s for highs to the low 40’s for lows. The lakes certainly didn’t need the big swing in temps with many of the sunfish family of fishes spawned out, currently or getting ready to spawn.
Despite the weird weather the fishing remains ok to excellent depending on the day. Walleyes are beginning to relate fairly heavy on weediness in the 8-16 foot depths. It has still been a shiner bite as of late but we have been getting a few on leeches and spinners as well. Crappies have nearly finished their spawn in the entire Brainerd Lakes Area and have went into their post spawn funk. I expect them to start moving into weedy inside turns any day. Smallies and largies are both actively spawning but the latest cold snap pushed many of them off the beds, especially in the larger lakes where there is still a bunch of cold water. Bluegills have begun the nesting process in many of the smaller lakes and I expect the larger lakes to begin this week with he warmer temps returning.
Brainerd Lakes Area
The walleyes on Gull are still on full feed and a great bite is happening pretty much all day at this point. Fish are being taken on any area that is wind blown from 6-14 feet. Some deeper fish are beginning to be found as well. Casting plastics in whites or shades of blue on a 3/16 jig head ripping it through the weeds is working great. The jigging rap bite is going well with clowns working towards evenings with more natural looking color patterns like perch or blue/chrome working better in the brighter times of the day. We are getting a few on leeches and spinners but it hasn’t completely taken off yet but it will be happening fairly soon.
Trolling rattling stick baits is still working well and at all times of the day. Smithwick Rogues, Husky Jerks and Shadow Raps are all working wonderfully. Darker colors have been working the best with a reflective bronze being the number 1 lure. Lighted slip bobbers and leeches are also working well if you can narrow down a good school. Most fish are fairly scattered at this point but in certain spots, fish seem to be holding, especially areas that have the brown cabbage near a point or inside turn.
The largemouth and smallmouth are going crazy. Right now the best technique is a whacky worm near the shoreline or on big weeded flats. Long casts from the boat with a 5-10 second pauses between jigging work the best. Many smallies are on their nests but this past cold front pushed them off. Look for them to be heading back to the beds this week. Largemouth are done in the smaller lakes like Greens and Love but are just starting to move on nests in the upper lakes. The bass are still on a prespawn pattern on the main lake with most bigger fish being found in the 6-10 foot areas with weeds.
Bluegills have really started to nest up in the smaller lakes. Look for them on or near the shorelines. You can find them by spotting their typical honeycomb nests or in some cases, areas with cleared off snail beds that will look like a flashlight of white. Tungsten ice fishing jigs tipped with small panfish leeches, small chunk of night crawler or waxies seem to work well. Tungsten really changes this game. It will drop through the top layer of small females to get down to the bigger males guarding the nests. Please use some selective harvest on the spawning bull bluegills. They are the only protection towards egg eating predators and also fan the nests to keep the eggs fresh so they can hatch.
Whitefish/Pelican Lakes Area Report
Walleye are being found in depths anywhere from the 10-14 foot weed lines to large flats from the 16-25 foot depths. Both lakes have similar patterns for where the walleyes are located but patterns are a little different.
On Pelican, the best bite has been using a live bait rig with a long 8 foot plus snell and a fine #4 red octopus hook. In some areas you must use a Phelps floater to keep the minnow off the bottom because of all the sand grass emerging. Some walleyes and pike were being taken on the drops near weeds. The weeds are fairly sparse so use your electronics to find clumps of cabbage and coon tail and target these areas with jigs and shiners or troll with shadraps. Blue and purples seem to be the best colors.
The Whitefish Chain has a pretty consistent weed line bite going right now. Walleyes are being found on wind blown edges and points where the weeds bottom out at the 10-12 foot marks. Long lining a small jig with a shiner has been very effective as of late. Some fish have been taking jigging raps and rippin’ raps but with he cold front that came through, the fish really transitioned to a more subtle technique. The fish really appear to be keying on certain locations like a change in weed types or a bottom transition from sand to rock. Start by long lining jigs to narrow down the fish locations and then you can go back and either cast jigs and shiners or slip bobber a shiner to hit the active schools.
Smaller lakes are seeing a transition from press-pawn to spawn on the sunfish. Crappies are pretty much all done with a few areas on the bigger lakes that have some deeper spawning fish in the 6-12 foot marks.