Tackling a flooded basement instead of fish this week

When I get asked about living where I do, at Lake of the Woods, one of the first responses that I always have is that, “it’s a great place to live if you enjoy being outside, especially if you like fishing”. Few places can compare with all of the access we have to water across the Sunset Country region, the multitude of different species to catch and the fact that there are seasons open for a number of species at any point during the year; we can always go fishing.

There was no fishing for me over the past week. I had intentions of getting out to try and find some open water or even to find some ice to walk out on just to say I went ice fishing in May, but it didn’t happen. Instead, like many others across the region, my wife and I have been battling water flooding into our basement. It’s been a workout.

Over the past eleven years that I have lived at my house I had not experienced any water getting in before. Earlier this spring we had even made the comment that we were lucky to never have any issues with our basement. Then last week, it decided to come pouring in, so our weekend was spent trying to contain that as best we can.

I was disappointed to miss out on finding somewhere to wet a line because we have some great fishing opportunities immediately following ice out on our lakes. Big pike flock to the backs of shallow weed-filled bays where they will spawn over the next couple of weeks. It’s a good time of year to catch a big pike and getting to do it in shallow water where you can actually see fish that look like logs cruising around old pencil reeds and bulrush patches. It’s fun. A good pair of polarized shades and a big soft plastic jerkbait or swimbait are you best friends for fishing the shallows.

Although the deep, clear lake trout lakes are the last ones to open up, spring is prime time for lakers that take advantage of the cold water to roam the shallows before spending the rest of their open water season in deep water. I have had a bunch of good days over the years trolling wind-blown shorelines with spoons or crankbaits for lake trout in May. You can catch them casting or fishing from shore as well. They are in a mode to eat for the first few weeks of the season.

Ice out fishing for bass is excellent as well. It can be hero or zero because the fish will still be grouped up somewhat, meaning that if you find where they are, you can catch a bunch. But if you don’t make any contact you can miss out. You’ll find groups of smallmouth bass on points and rock piles in the shallow bays, looking for the warmest water you can find. You can also find some smallmouths out deep on the humps where they spend the winter. Some bass will usually hang around on these deep spots for a week or two before they disperse to spawn along the shoreline later in the spring. Look for largemouth bass around shallow cover like old reed clumps, trees or beaver huts in the warmest water. With the higher water we’re going to experience this spring, there will be a lot of good cover to fish.

Over the coming weeks you can try your luck at crappies when they make a move to shallow water to spawn and the walleye season opens May 21. The ice should be out on most area lakes right around then. What a crazy spring.

For everybody else who is dealing with flooding issues this spring, I hope things dry up for you and you’re able to get out on the water soon! We’re still in a battle with our basement here but hopefully the water will start moving on this week.

Shelby Gustafson with a nice largemouth caught just after ice out in the back of a shallow bay. – Submitted photo