One thing is for sure in the Brainerd Lakes Area, our weather has been very unstable and on average very cool. We are finding water temps anywhere from the upper 40s into the upper 50s depending on the lake. This has had a couple effects on the fishing but for the most part fishing is still awesome. Fish are shallow, they are active and when you find them, they are fairly schooled up.
As for the weather, it has had a very negative impact on the crappie spawn, which means good things for us fishing. Look for the crappies to still be staging in their pre-spawn areas. Plastics have been the best tactic by far. Look for locally produced Juice Baits Rubber Chicken to help you out. White has been my best bet as of late. Simply put the chicken on a 1/32 oz jig head and you have all you need. If we do end up with really warm temps, the fish are going to jump on their beds fast. Look for them in reed beds as well as some shoreline locations around docks.
Bluegills are still staging just off their spawning locations in newly emerging weeds. Night crawlers, small panfish leeches and waxworms have all been great. We have been finding them anywhere from 2-5 feet and very active.
Largemouth bass are still putting on a heavy feed bag as well in their pre-spawn locations. When you find the crappies and/or bluegills, you do not have to look very far to find active largemouth. Any sort of slow working plastics will work. I really love using a whacky style setup, working the lure slowly. You can also hammer on them using spinner baits or chatter baits as well.
The walleyes are still very shallow and active. The weeds are starting to pop up a little bit but it isn’t changing the bite. We have been finding walleyes in 8-12 feet of water with trolling or long lining jigs tipped with shiners. Our best success has been trolling with bigger style stick baits at 1.5-1.8 mph as of late. The key has been getting the bait a long ways behind the boat. Snapping the rod has also helped increase bites although some days the fish prefer the bait simply working on its own. One thing about trolling right now is you will be catching a lot of pike and to me, there isnt a better eating fish. Remember the regulations around the BLA is 10 pike daily with only 2 over 26 inches allowed and with the protected slot from 22-26.
If you choose to long line jigs, what we have been doing is pretty simple…a long cast behind the boat, working the jigs within the weeds. Walleyes can be ambush feeders so using this technique can really work well on days where the bite is off a little bit. We have been using a 1/16 oz Clam Pro Tackle Drop Tg in more neutral colors and long casts behind the boat. The biggest key is using a good super line. I prefer the line being 3 pound diameter, 8 pound test. I always tip the line with a 15 pound fluorocarbon leader to prevent bite offs from pike. The speed we run is at 0.8 mph and we work the rod in a quick jig jig jig, pause action.
There is also a very good night bite going for walleyes right now. Trolling the vast flats on Gull and North Long have been working wonders. You really do not have to be near a break-line. The big thing is to find weed patches and work them. We have also been catching some fish casting at night in locations where the wind has been pounding and has concentrated baitfish. Some people have been having some success on lighted bobbers with leeches or shiners.
When it comes to pike fishing, use your imagination because it seems like anything you do you can catch them at this stage. If you want to up the size, simply up the size of the lure you are using. Trolling and casting will work but if you want to drown some sucker minnows, simply locate a nice weed bed and you will get some serious action.
Trout fishing is very good in the Crosby mine pits. People are catching fish off of shore as well as trolling small minnow baits. The fish are stocked so what I do is locate jumping fish and work that area hard until you located the next group of jumping fish. One thing to keep in mind is that the MDNR has recently stocked a few of the pits with lake trout so make sure you know what you are keeping!
Enjoy your weekend and stay safe folk! Lots of lakes and lots of good fishing to be had in the Brainerd area!!
Nate Berg Fishing Guides