ALEXANDRIA LAKES AREA
Fishing Reports provided by Lindy Pro Guide Joe Scegura.
December Fishing Report
Wow it’s hard to believe we were fishing out of a boat only two weeks ago and now we are standing on 6”- 10“ of ice. The last couple weeks of open water were very good for fishing. The water temps had finally gotten to the point where the walleye were biting very well and then the cold weather hit us. It only took about 48 hours and we had ice!
With the extreme cold weather the lakes have been making nearly an inch a night. Of course ice thickness varies from lake to lake but most of the lakes have good fishable ice on them right now. This past weekend there were quite a few anglers fishing both panfish and walleye.
The walleye have been hitting best on jigging spoons tipped with a fathead in 10 to 18 feet of water. Look for areas near deep water that have a rocky bottom and weeds. These areas will have walleye activity in the low light time periods.
Crappie and sunfish have also been quite active. The best areas for me early season are usually flat bottom weedy bays that are 10 to 18 feet deep. The fish will generally congregate near any standing green vegetation. I like to keep on the move until I find a large number of fish. Once I find them, I use a small #12 horizontal jig like Lindy Toad tipped with a small euro larva or wax worm.
This cold weather might not be your first choice for weather, but it’s not too often we get to fish on the ice before Thanksgiving. So let’s all be thankful and enjoy some excellent Minnesota ice fishing!
November Fishing Report
This has been the mildest October I can remember. Normally by this time of the year we have had numerous hard frosts and water temperatures would be in the low 40’s. This year we’ve had some unbelievably warm weather that has kept the water temps in the low 50’s.
Although the warm weather has been enjoyable, it has made the walleye bite extremely unpredictable. Earlier in the month we had some cool days that really got the walleye going. Then the warm weather hit, which significantly slowed down the walleye bite. The walleye we have been able to catch have been caught on a Lindy rig and a minnow or a jig and a minnow in 15’-40’ of water.
There is a positive to the warm weather though; it has prolonged the excellent bite for the smallmouth and crappie. In fact, some of my best smallmouth and crappie action this year has happened in the past couple weeks. We have had numerous days where anglers have literally complained about aching arms! I have to say that kind of complaining is always music to a fishing guide’s ears.
It’s clear the smallmouth bite has been as good as it gets for weeks now, but up until this last weekend nearly all of the walleye I was cleaning had empty bellies. With the signs of increased feeding, anglers will begin to notice a more aggressive walleye bite taking place over the next couple weeks. Some of the best fishing of the all is yet to come so don’t put the boat away yet!
October Fishing Report
The fall fishing has been excellent the past few weeks. We’ve been catching literally hundreds of very large smallmouth. If you’re not familiar with smallmouth, there is no other freshwater fish that fights harder pound for pound. They are also a beautiful fish that are extremely fun to catch.
Smallmouth are most commonly found in shallow rocky areas (2-15 feet of water). The will hit numerous minnow or minnow style presentations. They feel the need to fatten up for winter, so that’s why September is such a great time to fish smallmouth. They will be feeding aggressively like this into mid-October.
Once the smallmouth bite slows I move right over to a hot walleye bite. The walleye bite usually hits its peak by mid to late October. They will feed aggressively on minnow presentations well into November and into the ice fishing season. My preferred technique is either a jig and a minnow or a Lindy rig and a minnow.
In my opinion there’s no better time to get out and enjoy the fall colors and experience some great fishing. If you have any questions about the area don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to help!
September 2014 Report
The past couple weeks we’ve been getting some decent fish, but nothing like we will be catching over the next couple months. This current cold front has slowed fishing for the time being, but will only help fishing in the long run. When the water temperatures drop, all species feel the need to feed heavily. Early last week we had water temps in the low 70’s, but less than a week later we are seeing surface temps in the low 60’s. Once this weather system stabilizes it won’t take long to see the positive effects of this cooler weather.
The fall is my favorite time of year to fish. The lakes are less crowded and the scenery is second to none. Not to mention the excellent fishing! Almost all species will start to prefer larger minnow or minnow style baits. Especially smallmouth, they are my favorite species to fish for in September. These fish fight harder pound for pound than any other freshwater fish. Over the next few weeks these fish will be eating nearly nonstop in 2’-10’ of water. This will be quite apparent because their shape will resemble that of a football.
Walleye, on the other hand, wait a while longer. They will be most aggressive in mid to late October. This is one of the most productive times to fish for walleye, and is one of the best times to catch a true trophy! A jig and a minnow fished on the outside weed edge in 16’-30’ of water will produce the most fish. If you have any questions let me know. Otherwise, grab the family and enjoy a trip to the Alexandria lakes area this fall!
August 2014 Report
The fishing in the Alexandria area has been very good the past few weeks. Prior to this we’ve had excellent fishing, but it was inconsistent. One day you would do very well on walleye and the next day a cold front would push through and make the walleye extremely difficult to catch. The weather has been much more consistent lately and so has the walleye action. We’ve been seeing good numbers of very nice eater sized walleye along with some big picture fish as well.
Generally, during this time of year the bite can be very tough, but with the help of fellow guide Ben Hittle (ph# 320-766-1832) we’ve been able to stay on some very nice walleye. It’s been a combination of fishing faster and deeper. A common depth for us has either been shallow 5’-6’ or 20’-28’ feet of water depending on the time of day. Pulling lindy rigs, spinners and crank baits have all been producing at about 1.0-2.5mph. Covering a lot of water has been the key to our success. You need to locate the fish that are actively feeding on bait. You should be able to see plenty of fish sitting tight to the bottom on your Lowrance, but the fish that are up 2-3’ feeding on clouds of bait are the fish we like to target.
Panfishing has also been very good. Most of the good reports have come from 12-18’ weeds. A 1/16 oz. jig and a white twister tail trolled at about 1mph has been a great way to locate the nice crappie. I’ve also had very good success with a 1/32oz jig and a small spinner. Trolling either one of these baits is a great way to locate hungry schools of fish. I see too many people go out with just a bobber and a worm, hoping for the best. If you know where the fish are this approach works very well, but if you are trying to locate the fish then, IMO, this technique is too slow. More often than not people end up giving up before they find the fish.
Keeping on the move until you find hungry fish sounds like common sense, but by picking the right search baits, regardless of the species, you can greatly increase your odds of having a productive day on the water. The fishing can’t get much better than it is right now, so if you’re interested in coming up and have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Summer Report 6/30/2014:
The past month has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. We started off with an excellent bite as usual for early June, boating many very good sized walleye. With some very large walleye mixed in that were 25”-29”. The fish were showing preference to leeches and crawlers pulled at a faster speed. Fish were schooled up tightly on weed lines, rock humps and other various structures. Everything appeared to be on track for some fantastic June fishing.
Then the stretch of rainy/stormy weather hit. I think it was a combination of very warm temps, mayfly hatches and strong rain storms causing large amounts of runoff that mixed the fish up a bit. The fish were still schooled tightly, but they would just downright refuse to bite at times. No matter what presentation or bait you tried the fish would just look at it.
This was a bit frustrating because many anglers have come accustomed to the almost guaranteed good fishing June usually brings. But, as usual with unsteady weather patterns, if you stick it out the bite will turn around. It was a long 7-10 days but the hot fishing is back! We are seeing great catches of all species this past week. Walleye, bluegills, crappie, bass, northern and even muskie have been very active.
The walleye have been active in a variety of depths, but 15-25 feet has been the preferred depth. Lindy rigs or bobbers with leeches have been doing very well. Tall standing cabbage weeds will hold a wide variety of fish. Fishing in or around them can yield very good results this time of year. This week I have caught northern, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, sunfish and walleye all mixed together in the same weed areas.
Barring any major weather disturbances, we should see some excellent fishing for the holiday weekend and the following weeks. So, bring the rods along and get those kids out fishing!
May 2014 Report:
The water temps are finally beginning to rise with this wonderful spring weather the past few days. As always on opener, some anglers did very well and others just caught a few. But, in general, it was a successful opener for most. Water temperatures were in the mid 40’s on most of the lakes, and for the most part the fish had just finished spawning. The majority of the fish that were caught were in very shallow water. Six feet of water or less with a rocky or gravel bottom seemed to be the ticket.
The best reports came from people using casting methods, which is very common when fish are in that shallow. Casting a jig and a minnow or long lining a Lindy rig has been working very well during the day. During the evening a crank bait has been producing some very nice fish as well.
The fishing has been getting better by the day, and this week I’ve heard some excellent reports from many anglers. The water has warmed into the low 50’s on many of the lakes and the minnows have absolutely flooded the shallows. These minnows will continue to bring the fish in shallow to feed, but in general many fish are being caught in a bit deeper water. I look for the same presentations mentioned above to produce this weekend in 5-12 feet of water.
These same techniques will work as long as the minnows are up shallow. Once the minnows disappear in early June we will begin to see a transition to other baits like Leeches and night crawlers. For now stick shallow on rocks or gravel with a minnow presentation and move slow!
Check back for updates and/or contact me with any specific questions you might have. Good luck fishing!
4/25/14 Fishing Report
It’s been less than two weeks since I was ice fishing last, and today we are ice free on most of the lakes across the Alexandria area. The strong winds and rain the last couple days did a fine job of melting the remaining ice. There are a few of the larger lakes that still have some ice on them, but with a week of rain and wind in the forecast I have no doubt by the middle of next week Alexandria will be 100% ice free.
There are already numerous reports of crappie being caught in good numbers right off of shore. The next month will be prime time for our spring crappie bite. My ideal crappie areas this time of year are black mucky bottom bays. These areas warm up the quickest, which brings in large amounts of bait. The bait will then draw in the panfish to feed on them. A small jig like a Little Nipper with a crappie minnow set 1-3 feet under a float will do the trick in most cases. Other tactics like plastics and small spoons will also work well at times. Low light time periods are best, but on a calm sunny spring day the fish have been known to bite well all day long. This is one of the few times out of the year where the shore fisherman can do just as well, if not better than, someone with a boat. (Note: Crappie 10”-12” are great eating size and crappie 13” and up should be returned to the water to spawn and get even bigger!)
Walleye opener is also coming fast. Last year the ice came off many of the lakes the evening before opener, so compared to that we are 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. The walleye will be in all of the usual spring locations and ready to bite come opener. One of my favorite early season walleye areas is shallow water (1’-5’) with current. During the low light time periods these areas are full of bait and the walleye come to these areas to feed. Casting a crank bait like #5 Lindy Shadling or a comparable minnow imitation works very well. As does a jig and a minnow casted and retrieved slowly.
During the day I like to fish a little deeper water (7’-15’) and preferably areas with rock and gravel. A jig and a minnow or a Lindy rig and a minnow fished very slowly across the bottom will catch a lot of walleye. The common theme here is using minnow or minnow imitations. There are a few lakes in the area where other baits like leeches and night crawlers will do well, but in my opinion there is no better bait than a minnow in the spring!
The fishing in Alexandria is excellent year round, but May is one of the few times of the year where trophy quality fish can be taken just as easily from shore as they can be from a boat. So take your family to Alexandria and catch some memories that will last a lifetime!
March 24th Alexandria Fishing Report
With a fresh six inches of snow last week and single digit temps this past weekend, winter just refuses to let go! The ice has not deteriorated much at all, and if you have an extension for your auger I’d plan to bring it with. It’s possible to get by without one, but it definitely makes drilling holes much more difficult. With warm temperatures in the forecast for this coming weekend, I’d also recommend bringing ice cleats with you. The little snow we have left on the lakes will go quickly, so it could get slick out on the ice.
Fish are still biting very well. The past few weeks have only had a few “slow” days of fishing, and those directly coincided with the big drops in temperature. With the big warm up in sight, it should help get those fish moving into their spring feeding habits. Generally by this time of year many of the panfish have moved into shallower water, but I’m still having very good luck in 15’-25’ of water on many of the larger lakes. The smaller lakes with water flowing through them do warm up faster, so I'm starting to see fish right up under the ice in 5’-8’ of water. During this spring transition period fish will be all over the board. Some shallow, some deep, but as we get farther into spring all fish will be moving shallower.
I’ve been finding sunfish and crappie during the day in large numbers. It’s definitely a moving game though. If you don’t see fish on your locator you simply have to keep moving. My best luck has still been with a small horizontal jig tipped with a Euro larva. During the evening sunfish generally taper off and the crappie spread out in search of an easy meal. Over the last few months I’ve had excellent luck in the deep basin areas. A crappie minnow under a float has proven to be an excellent bait to catch these suspended fish.
Ice conditions are excellent and the fish are going to be biting better than ever, so don’t miss the chance to get in on some of the best angling of the year. The ice conditions will change quickly over the next month so check my audio reports for updates. If you have any questions just send me an email and I’ll get back to you quickly. Good luck!
Feb 19th Fishing Report
As the snow piles continue to grow, another Winter month has come and gone. The calendar tells us spring is on the way, but it's difficult to see any real signs that it's near. With over 30" of ice on many of the lakes, this year is shaping up to be similar to last year. We were ice fishing well into April and we still had ice on the lakes for our May walleye opener. Depending on the person, all this cold and ice will get different reviews. The average person may be counting the days until summer, but to the many avid ice anglers things couldn't be better!
The sunfish and crappie action remains hot. I've been finding the majority of my fish near deep water on the breaks in 15-30 foot of water. Depending on the lake "deep water" may be anywhere from 20-50 feet down. Panfish like to concentrate near the edge of these deep basin areas making them fairly predictable. I usually drill 20-30 holes to start with, along the edge of one of these breaks. If I don't read a decent number of fish I just keep drilling until I do.
The other day I decided to try some small lakes I hadn't been on in a while in hopes of finding the next hot bite. These small lakes can pay off huge at times. You can literally be the only person on the lake catching fish hand over fist with some even reaching trophy caliber. It's the possibility of finding something no one else knows about that makes all the work worth while, even if on this given day we didn't locate the caliber of fish we were after. We still managed to find large numbers of sunfish and crappie, as well as some very nice perch. This is one of the reasons I love the Alexandria area so much. There are very few places you can catch hundreds of fish in a day and hope to do better the next.
As for walleye fishing, it continues to be on the slow side for me. Finding the fish hasn't been an issue, it's getting them to bite on a consistent basis that's been very difficult. One night you can go out and catch a limit of nice walleye, only to get skunked the very next night. This is typical with late season walleye. Generally during this time of the year I try to increase my odds by only fishing in low light time periods. Right before a storm is also an excellent time to try your luck at some late season walleye. Walleye closes February 23rd so get out there while you can!
January 20th Report
Secrets to Catching Big Daytime Bluegill and Crappie!
The ice conditions across the area are excellent. I’ve been finding anywhere from 18”-24” of ice on average with vehicle traffic nearly everywhere. The only issue has been the snow and blowing snow. The bigger lakes such as Osakis, Minnewaska, Miltona and the Chain of Lakes will most likely have plowed roads. There are also smaller lakes with good plowed roads, but it is more hit and miss. Snowmobiles are an excellent way to get around and allow you to fish away from other anglers, but if that is not an option you can get to plenty of great fishing areas by vehicle. There are people plowing new roads everyday so there always seems to be a lot of options.
The fishing across the Alexandria area has been and continues to be downright outstanding. We’ve been catching quality northern, walleye, bluegill and crappie on a number of lakes. I’ve also heard good reports from many other lakes I haven’t even had time to fish yet. I write a lot about catching walleye, so I figured I’d dedicate this article to the finer points of catching big panfish during the day.
Regardless of how well I feel the fishing is I still see and hear of anglers struggling to catch quality sunfish and crappie during the day. The most common reason I see people struggling is they use what works for them in the low light time periods and expect it to work during the day, such as using heavy equipment and sitting in one spot. When in reality the two time periods require very different techniques and equipment.
In general, quality fish are finicky by nature. Then, add in the factor of daylight, and these fish become very particular on what they will eat. Even when they do decide to bite it will usually be a very tentative light bite. That’s why the common panfish setup people use (a medium action rod with 4-6 pound test line, #6 or #8 hook, wax worm or minnow and a bobber) will most often not work. These fish can see very well during the day, so that means the bait must move and look as natural as possible for the fish to bite. I recommend a light but sensitive rod with 2 or 3 lb test line for this type of fishing. For a hook I’d recommend a small #12 hook. I prefer a horizontal jig like the #12 Lindy Toad. For bait I also like to keep things small. I usually use 1 or 2 Euro larva on my jig at time. If I use any more than that or a large wax worm I feel I start to push away many of the light biting big bluegill.
The jigging technique is a two part operation. The first part is the constant jiggle, and the second is the vertical movement. The majority of people do not realize how fine the jiggle needs to be to make a fish bite. I actually call it more of a wiggle or vibration than a “jiggle”. It has to be extremely light. I almost hold it still at times and let my nerves/heart beat wiggle the tip of the rod. Now that you have the intensity of the wiggle down, let’s talk about the vertical movement in the water column. (Note: everything I’m about to explain is based off the use of a fish locator such as Vexilar, Hummingbird, Marcum. They are all quality units.) I like to start by dropping my lure down through the fish. Then, slowly raise the jig (about an 1/8 inch per second) while you wiggle the jig. It’s important to keep moving the jig up as the fish raises toward your bait. Fish naturally feed up and the continued upward movement makes the fish feel it’s going to get away so they are more apt to bite it. Very commonly they do not bite the bait on the first sequence. There are times I’ve dropped down and jigged up a dozen times to finally get a stubborn giant bluegill to tap my lure. It’s a bit of a game, and it sure is gratifying when you outsmart something so cautious.
The last part of this puzzle is to stay on fish. You can do all of the above, but if you don’t move until you find fish it will be for nothing. I like to start with 15-20 holes in an area I feel will hold fish. Then I’ll check each hole with my locator. If there are two or more suspended fish in a hole I’ll quickly drop my lure down. I’ll fish there as long as I read a good number of fish, but there are many times when I’ll leave a hole with fish to find a hole with even more fish. The more fish you have down a given hole the more competition there is. This makes the fish think more about missing out on a tasty meal than why they shouldn’t bite your offering. I see many people get too comfortable and sit on the same couple holes all day catching one here or there. It's hard for them to move because they're catching fish. I'm here to tell you it can be so much better than a couple fish.
Grab the family and come explore one of our amazing fisheries! Good luck, and feel free to email me with any questions you might have. Good Luck!
November 2013 Report:
First Ice Report, Dec 14th
Ice across the Alexandria area is forming quickly this year with a good layer of ice on most of the lakes. Currently the ice ranges from 6"-12" thick with the smaller lakes having the thickest ice. As long as the typical danger spots are avoided the ice is considered very safe right now for anyone wanting to walk out. I've even started to see people driving vehicles out, of course this is not recommended. I do like to note this though, because it stresses the fact that the ice is safe for walking and is ready to be fished!
Anglers have been doing well on walleye, sunfish and crappie as of late. There are so many good lake options when it comes to fishing the Alexandria area it can be difficult choosing which one to fish. There are always lakes that get more attention than others, but keep in mind that some of the best bites are happening on lakes with little to no anglers on them. Almost all of the lakes in the area have a fishable population of walleye and panfish.
The panfish have been very active during both the day and night. The weedy bays in 10-15fow have been best. I use a #12 Lindy Toad with a euro Larva and 2-3 pound test line during the day. During the evening I can get away with 4-6 pound line and a Frostee jig with a crappie minnow.
I've been having my best luck for walleye right where they were in the fall. Weed lines near deep water have always treated me well early in the ice season. My best bait has been a 1/8-3/16oz Perch colored Frostee tipped with a minnow or partial minnow. Last night I was out and the walleye were just crushing the bait. They would come in on the locator for only a second and immediately fly up to the bait to hit it. This is not always the case though. Many evenings the fish will come in slow and you will have to work the bait up and down a number of times to get the fish to bite. Even if you do everything right you will generally notice a number of fish that are just not interested.
The fish change their aggressiveness towards baits continuously. There are numerous reasons they do this, but the most predictable is weather change. I watch storms just like I do in the summer. If I see a change in weather coming I'll do my best to be sitting on the ice right before the storm hits. The fish are much more aggressive during this time period. In fact, my best days of fishing have been in a light snow prior to the storms arrival.
Regardless of the weather, now is one of the best times to be on the ice. The fish are generally quite active, the ice is predictable and, as long as you don't drive a truck on 6" of ice, it's very safe to be out right now. If you have questions about a specific lake feel free to email me or call the local bait shop. But regardless of what anyone tells you the best way to stay safe is just check as you go. Follow the DNR's recommended ice thickness chart and you will be safe and dry. Good luck!
October 2013 Report:
The beautiful fall colors, the crisp cool air, and of course the excellent walleye fishing, are just a few of the reasons why I love fall in Minnesota. Walleye fishing this time of year is not only consistant it’s also one of the best times to catch a true trophy. There's nothing quite like bouncing a jig and a minnow up and down a steep break waiting for that slight thump. It gets my adrenaline pumping just thinking about it.
Fishing a jig and a minnow is one of the oldest and most widely used baits ever invented. Even though this is a rather simplistic bait, the ways to fish the lure are endless. Depending on your depth, bottom type, and time of year you may need to fish this lure completely different.
In the fall I mostly use a 3/8oz jig. I find it to be the best size jig to stay vertical yet catch finicky fish. Any lighter and it’s difficult to stay completely vertical, and any heavier you risk scaring off some of the fish. Take the jig and hook your minnow of choice through the mouth and out behind the head (see pic below). This will reduce the number of missed fish as well as keep your bait lively.
Now that you have the perfect bait let's talk about where to fish. The first step is deciding which one of the beautiful lakes in Alexandria you want to try. I base that decision on a number of things, but generally I do best on shallow lakes earlier in the fall. Then, as the temps drop, I transition to the deeper lakes. Regardless if I'm fishing a shallow or deep lake I look for the deepest areas on that lake. I then target points or steep breaks near these deep holes.
I've found the best presentation in these areas is very slow and completely vertical. Drop your jig to the bottom and lift your jig about 1-2" off bottom. Suspend your bait there for 5-10 seconds. Then, tap the bottom again and repeat. This technique works right through ice up, so even though the weather is getting colder every day the fish are there and waiting for you! I’d recommend some of the bigger and deeper lakes like Miltona, Ida, Carlos, or Latoka. These deeper lakes will stay ice free the longest and all give you a great chance at a trophy. It won’t be long and we’ll be talking about ice fishing so take advantage of the open water while it lasts. Generally by late November there will be enough ice on some of the smaller lakes for angling. My next report will discuss how to stay safe on the ice and catch some early ice walleye!
September 2013 Report:
September is arguably the best time of year to fish smallmouth bass. During this time period smallmouth school up to hunt bait fish. It doesn’t matter if they’re hungry or not, they just have to eat. This makes for a very consistent bite that anyone can enjoy. As the days get shorter and the water temps drop, these fish know it’s time to get ready for winter.
My best locations this year were shallow rock spots in 2-6 feet of water. More often than not these areas were flooded with smallmouth. As long as the area had bait, the fish would not be far away. Keeping on the move was essential in my success. If I didn’t actually see bait in the water or fish surfacing in the first 10 minutes I knew it was time to move.
Once I located a spot with activity it was as simple as trying a few of my favorite techniques. The fish would quickly tell me the type of lure they wanted for the day. There are quite a few lures I use for smallmouth in the fall, but it’s always hard to beat a large minnow or minnow imitation bait. When I’m looking for a true trophy sized smallmouth I’m not afraid to use baits in excess of 10”.
The average sized smallmouth this year was quite impressive, as were the numbers of fish brought to the boat. We caught an average of 50–75 fish a day, with some near or at trophy caliber. There were also days where near trophy fish were so frequent it was just impossible to get pictures of them all. When everyone in the boat is fighting a large fish at the same time you know you’re having fun! These fish pound for pound are the best fighting fish in Minnesota waters.
This is the perfect trip for kids and families because everyone is going to catch fish and have fun together. If you’re interested in taking a trip like this on your own or with a guide give me a call, I’m always happy to help. Great fishing is something everyone should enjoy at some point. It truly makes you appreciate the beauty our Minnesota waters have to offer.
October walleye fishing preview: The cool weather is here and the walleye fishing is improving by the day. We are already seeing large numbers of walleye being caught. The majority of the fish are on the smaller side, but you will catch a number of bigger fish as well. As the month continues the larger fish will get more and more frequent. Mid-Oct to mid-Nov is what I call the “prime time” walleye bite. A jig and a minnow is all you need to catch a good number of walleye during this time period. I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful fall day than sitting on a lake catching walleye. This is my favorite time of year to be in Alexandria!
Check out my next report for plenty of walleye pics and what worked best during the fall bite!
August 2013 Report:
The past month walleye fishing has been quite good, considering that August is usually one of the most difficult and intimidating times of the year to catch fish. There were definitely some days that were tougher than others, but in general catching a number of good walleye was common place. This wasn’t always the case for me in mid-summer though. I have many years of trial and error on the water prior to this season. In this short article I’ll explain some of the common mistakes I made, as well as the proven techniques I use today.
Like many anglers, I used to find myself fishing the same school of walleye for days trying to figure out what they wanted and when. I’d hover over these fish for hours, only to have them ignore nearly everything I had to offer. Sure I’d catch a fish here or there, but never something I could call a solid pattern. Most times of the year finding the fish is the hardest part, so it can be extremely frustrating to have fish act like your bait is not even there. I still figured if I waited they would eventually bite. After all this is the time period when fish are supposed to be growing the most, they should be aggressive right?
Well, fish are eating a lot during this time of year, but what I wasn’t taking into consideration was the amount of natural food available to them. The food I’m referring to is the young of the year perch about 2-3” long. Most lakes in central MN have an abundance of small perch by mid-summer, making it hard to compete with a leech, crawler or even a minnow. These fish are used to chasing and feeding on perch day in day out and are relatively well fed, so not every fish is going to be hungry.
That’s why pulling a spinner and a crawler or crank bait like a #5 Lindy Shadling are my go to techniques. These baits pulled at 1.0-2.5mph allow me to cover a large amount of water to find active fish. While I’m trolling speedily around the lake I’m always watching my Lowrance looking for schools of perch. These schools of perch can be literally anywhere, but I have my best luck on the outside weed edges in 16-24 feet of water. Generally, once I find the perch I’ll note the depth they are so I can pull my lures through the school. This technique will usually trigger most walleye in the area to strike.
Keep in mind these techniques are designed to catch walleye, but literally any species will hit these baits. I’ve had days were I’ve caught walleye, bass, northern, muskie and panfish all in the same day. Simply by locating the bait and picking up the speed you can turn so called picky fish into aggressive fish. These techniques work best for me when the water is warm in the hot summer months. Once the water starts to cool in September/October I switch over to my “fall” techniques that I use the rest of the open water season. I’ll talk about these techniques in detail in my next report. Good luck!
Late July 2013 Report:
Overall the fishing was quite good for July and looks to be just as good in August. The walleye are biting well, but as usual for this time of year the bite can be inconsistent. One night the bite is excellent and the next it can be slower. At least on the slow walleye days (clear and calm) there are plenty of other species to target. Alexandria has excellent bass, northern, sunfish and crappie. All of which are more than willing to bite when it’s hot and sunny.
One of the biggest tips I can give anyone is: you need to find fish in order to catch them. Sounds pretty obvious right? I see quite a few weekend anglers just fishing, hoping they stumble on some fish. What I’m here to tell you is with just a little effort it’s not hard to turn a day of fishing into a day of catching.
You can start by concentrating your efforts on the outside weed line in 16’-22’ feet of water (FOW). (Note: fish like to hold to underwater points and islands.) If you have a good locator you can just drive along the edge, scanning the bottom from 16’-22’ until you read fish. If you have a basic depth finder I’d recommend just simply trolling a Lindy Rig tipped with a lively leech or a night crawler. This is one of the best multi species techniques right now. Fishing a Lindy Rig will allow you to cover a lot of water quickly and find the active fish.
Once you have found active fish and you have identified the species, it might be beneficial to switch to a presentation that’s more typical to the species you’re catching. For example, if I find a school of bass or northern I may switch my Lindy/Leech out for a flexible steel leader and a 4-5” sucker minnow or possibly a crank bait like a Lindy Shadling. Or, if I run across a large school of panfish I’ll switch over to my bobber rods and tie on a small hair jig like a Little Nipper.
This time of year has some of the most enjoyable weather of the year, so what better way to enjoy it than sitting on the water catching some fish!
For more current information click the link at the top of the page to listen to my audio fishing reports.
June 2013 Report:
Well it’s hard to put it any other way, the fishing across the lakes area has just been outstanding. Generally by July the bite has been through some highs and lows, but this year it couldn't have been more consistent. A cooler than normal spring was a major factor in making this happen. Early June is always one of the best time periods for fishing but this year with cooler water temps, we experienced excellent fishing all of June and expect it to continue right into July.
Over the past month the walleye have transitioned from primarily minnows over to leeches and night crawlers. My techniques and presentation speeds change as the water temp does. With the cool temps in early June I trolled my Lindy rigs very slow, almost stopping at times. Now a few weeks later with temps in the mid 70's they are hitting spinners or crank baits being pulled at over 2mph. With that said there are times when the water is calm or a cold front has moved through where a very slow presentation is still needed.
I'm finding most of my fish right on the weed line, bass, northern, walleye, crappie and sunfish. The weed line depth will vary from lake to lake depending on water clarity. A weed line is the depth at which weeds no longer have enough sunlight to grow. You can easily find a weed line with a basic locator. I like to start in deep water and drive towards shore. Your locator will show a smooth bottom until you reach 20-14 feet of water, then the bottom will appear to be "bumpy" that is your weed line. Now that you've located the weed line you will find fish amongst the weeds.
July is looking to be another great month for fishing. The weeds are still shorter than normal making them easy to fish. The fish will be holding right in the weeds and on the edge of the weeds all month long. By mid-July the weeds should be getting much taller and you will need to fish just on the outside edge of the weeds. Either way fish near the weeds and the fish will be waiting! I can’t think of a better way for a kid to spend a summer vacation than fishing and being active in the outdoors.
For the most current fishing information click and listen to the audio report at the top of the page!
May 2013 Report:
It’s hard to believe that less than three weeks ago there was ice on the majority of the lakes in the Alexandria area. Luckily the night before walleye opener the wind blew strong throughout the night opening up many of the lakes. Anglers were pleased to see open water as the sun began to rise opening morning. Opener is generally a very productive time to fish walleye on Minnesota lakes state wide.
This opener on the other hand things were much different. Many of the walleye had yet to spawn so anglers had a very difficult time finding fish. In fact most of the typical early walleye spots were void of fish. The anglers that fished shallow (1-6 feet) near moving water were rewarded greatly. The moving water that connects many of the lakes in the area attract minnows getting ready to spawn, this in turn attracts all types of fish to prey on them. The walleye in these areas were very aggressive. Many of the best locations for all species were actually accessible from shore. Included in these shore spots were dozens of bay areas with excellent crappie action as well.
Being minnows are the primary forage for most walleye this time of year it’s only natural that minnow style baits catch the most fish. In the month following the spawn I almost exclusively stick with minnows or minnow imitations. My best lures so far have been an 1/8oz jig tipped with a minnow and a shiner imitation crank bait. Both of these lures are excellent shallow water baits. We caught close to 15 fish like the ones pictured in less than two hours, all fishing from shore.
I estimate the walleye cycle is about three weeks behind schedule. That means the normal great fishing we have on opener is just about in its prime! Many of the normal opener fishing locations are finally filled with aggressive walleye. There are numerous lakes kicking out great eating sized fish right now. Just tonight I had a buddy of mine hit a typical “good opener lake” that I was curious about. Well it took him just over an hour to pull a limit of perfect eating sized walleye 15”-17”. He was fishing in 12-16 feet of water with shiners. Over the next month we will experience some of the best fishing of the year, so grab the family and head on up for some great fishing!
April 2013 Report:
Well there are two questions I've been asked over and over the past month. The first is, "How much ice is on the lakes in the Alexandria area?” The other is, “Will the ice be off for Minnesota fishing opener?" Many of the lakes still have over 24" of ice. I’ve been on a number of lakes recently, and the main lake ice varied from slightly honeycombed to very solid. The lake edges in some places are open, but in many places it's locked up tight to shore. Most access areas are in poor shape, but there were still quite a few places to get on the lake. Most anglers were on foot, but there were four wheelers and snowmobiles out as well. With the cool temps coming later in the week I’d say ice fishing this upcoming weekend would certainly be a possibility on many of the lakes in the area.
This past Saturday's guide trip was a memorable one. We not only had very good ice fishing, we also had temps reaching nearly 80 degrees. It couldn’t have been a nicer day to be on the ice. We tried a number of lakes, catching fish on them all, but the last lake kicked out the most fish. We broke the 100 mark quite easily in a few hours. The fish were in 8-15 feet of water. Our best lure was a Lindy Toad in any color tipped with a wax worm or Euro Larva. It was one of the nicest days I’ve ever spent ice fishing: great weather, great company and great fishing. It doesn’t get any better!
As for the second question, "Will the ice be off for Minnesota fishing opener?" I think it's safe to say that in the Alexandria area the ice will NOT be completely off all of the lakes. In fact, I think many of the lakes will still have a decent amount of ice floating around. If you're planning a trip for fishing opener don't be discouraged though, there will be plenty of places to catch walleye. As anglers we will just need to adapt to the condition and modify our target locations and techniques.
I plan to fish extremely shallow near moving water. Wherever there is moving water there will be a few things I'm looking for. First, the ice will be gone. Second, there will be bait. Lastly, where there is bait there will be fish! I'll probably be fishing a lipped crank bait with a rattle, like a Lindy Shadling, or I'll fish a jig and a minnow. Either one of these presentations I believe will produce fish. Most of the spots I'm referring to will be accessible on foot as well as by boat. Being these locations are shallow I’d also recommend fishing in low light periods, so depending on the angler you may need to adjust your fishing hours accordingly.
No matter what happens, this will be a fishing opener like we’ve never had before, so don’t miss it! Mother Nature has thrown us all a curve ball, so let’s see what we can do with it. I'll post ice reports and pics as often as possible up to opener.
March 2013 Report:
Normally this time of year I’m fishing the last bit of ice, or fishing open water from shore somewhere. Well, that is certainly not the case this year. With cooler than average temps we have quality ice similar to late January, 30+inches of ice. With no real warm up in the 10 day forecast, I don’t see why we won’t be ice fishing well into April. I think most people are ready for open water and for spring weather to finally get here, but I say, “When life gives you ice, you might as well fish!”
The fishing has been fantastic and it should only get better as the ice begins to melt, eventually. Not much has changed pattern wise since my last report. I’ve still been able to locate the crappie relating to the deeper basin areas 18’-30’ foot of water (FOW), as well as mixed in with the blue gills in some of the shallower areas 16’-10’FOW. Locating the fish is the biggest part of fishing no matter what time of year, but especially this time of year because, if you can find the fish, chances are they will bite well.
I’m starting to see more and more people moving from hole to hole checking for fish with their locators, rather than just sitting in one spot amongst a group of anglers waiting for the fish to come to them. The fish this time of year are normally very active and at times they will only stay in your hole for a couple of minutes. Usually they’ll stay in the area but the fish might roam up to 300yd in a day. That’s why it’s so important to locate the fish. It’s very common for me to check 30 or more holes just to find my first fish. Then, once I’ve found fish, depending on the day, I’m either able to follow them from hole to hole catching fish along the way or they can simply vanish and I’ll start the hunt all over again.
This may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t that bad because in most cases there are many people like myself willing to drill 100’s of holes. With temps being right at freezing or slightly above, the holes do not freeze over very quickly. This allows you to fish 100’s of holes that you didn’t even have to drill. All you really need for equipment to catch fish right now are the following items:
• A chisel or auger, just in case previously drilled holes have slightly iced over.
• A fish locator, any model will work but I prefer to use a Hummingbird ICE 55.
• A light rod with good sensitivity, spooled with 2lb test line (3lb at the very heaviest).
• A #12 horizontal jig, my favorite is a #12 Lindy Toad tipped with a small euro larva or a partial wax worm.
• Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen...
Something many people don’t realize is the power of the sun reflecting off the ice can be very strong this time of year. It doesn’t take long to get a bad burn if you’re looking into the sun. The other day I had my four year old niece out fishing with me and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. She said, “It's like we're on the beach!”. This time of year the warmer temps feel so good there were actually people ice fishing in shorts! I have to believe only in Minnesota would you see this.
There should be quality ice for some time yet, so if you’ve always wanted to get your kids into ice fishing there’s arguably never been a better time. Good fishing and plenty of good weather to come, so get the family up to Alexandria for a great ice fishing experience!
For current ice conditions and fishing reports please listen to the audio reports by clicking the link at the top of the page.
February 2013 Report: Late Season Crappie Tactics
Whether you are a person that loves snow or one that could do without it, it’s hard to deny the beauty it brings to the area. Over the past month the Alexandria area has seen a few quality snow falls and, based on the forecast for next week, there’s more on the way. Even with deep snow across most of the area, there are plenty of anglers out catching fish. Most of the bigger lakes have nice plowed trails out to the fishing areas, making ice fishing possible for anyone willing to give it a try.
I’ve predominantly been fishing crappie and sunfish the last few weeks. For the most part these fish have been in mixed schools holding near the outer edges of the deeper basin areas. Look at a lake map and you’ll see these areas I’m talking about. I look for deep water (25’-40’) that tapers up to shallower water (10’-15’), where they like to feed in the spring. The fish have been roaming the edge of these breaks during the day in 16’-20’ feet of water in large schools. Once night falls these same fish break apart and cover these areas actively searching for food. Being the fish change their feeding habits from day to night, your fishing tactics will also need to change.
I personally like to fish during the day better than the evening hours, but they both have their pros and cons. During the day I generally have little competition and get to fish where I want. This allows me the ability to locate fish and catch fish more consistently. The down side is you have to search for your fish. You must drill a series of holes in these transition areas until you read fish on your locator. If you don’t read fish on your locator, keep looking. Sometimes I find fish after drilling only 10 holes or sometimes it takes 50 or more, but once I find fish there will generally be a large school of them. Ideally I like to see fish stacked up on the bottom a few feet thick. Once you find fish like this usually you’ll be able to stay on them throughout the day as they don’t seem to move very far. My favorite technique in this situation is to use a #12 Lindy Toad tipped with a couple Euro larva or a wax worm. I’ll drop my lure down just above the fish and make them chase it up slowly. By making them chase it up they will generally bite the jig more aggressively.
As the sun drops near the horizon, these same schools of fish will break apart to look for food. If you’re on a popular lake you’ll see by now that more and more people are coming out to fish the evening bite. Many people enjoy this type of fishing because it’s very social and you don’t have to search to find fish. You simply drill a couple holes in the area I mentioned above and set your lines a few feet off bottom. The fish will be roaming the area in search of food, so that’s why sitting in one spot can be very productive after dark. In this situation I like to use small #8 or #6 Frostee jig tipped with a small crappie minnow under a bobber. The downside to this technique is you’re at the mercy of the fish to come to you and sometimes you wait and wait and they never come. They might pass by your lure 20 feet away and you’d never know it. This is why one night can be really good and the next can be slow.