Walleye fishing now heating up

Since we’re finally ice-free across Sunset Country, anglers are able to get out in the boat to catch some fish.
After a long winter, it’s a welcome activity for many of us.
Since I’ve been on the road for most of the past month, I’ve not been fishing much around home. But I’ve been getting some good reports from some of my friends.
I’m down in Alabama this week getting ready for an FLW Tour bass tournament on Pickwick Lake, but I’m looking forward to getting out on Lake of the Woods next week when I return home!
My friend, Dean Howard, has been guiding a fair amount on Lake of the Woods for the past two weeks, and has been having some good luck for walleye and lake trout.
As of a few days ago, Dean still was catching some nice lake trout as shallow as 10 feet of water—even catching some incidentally while he’s been walleye fishing.
When he’s been targeting lake trout, he has had the best luck trolling crankbaits along wind-blown shorelines.
The lake trout should be shallow for another week or so before heading to deeper water, where they’ll spend the rest of the summer. It’s a short window that these fish are in shallow water, but it’s a great time to get out and catch these awesome fish.
Meanwhile, the walleye report from Dean has been pretty good on Lake of the Woods, as well, especially over the past week. A couple of weeks ago, the reports were not good but my feeling is that these fish probably were still spawning so they were not all that interested in eating.
Now that the spawning run is wrapped up, the walleye fishing is going to start heating up.
Dean reported he was finding walleyes relatively shallow, fishing near weedbeds that were just starting to sprout up. He was using 1/8-oz. jigs tipped with minnows but said that in recent days, he is starting to catch fish on these jigs tipped with soft plastic, as well.
As their activity levels increase, plastics work fine, especially when these fish are in shallower water (by shallow I’m talking eight-12 feet).
Over the next couple of weeks, walleyes are going to start showing up on the traditional main lake structures where they’ll spend the summer.
At this time of year, it pays to be open-minded because fish certainly can show up shallower than you’d expect, especially on nice days or during low-light periods But don’t be afraid to look out deep if things are tough.
Down on Rainy Lake, my friend, Bryan Gustafson, has been fishing quite a bit and he says the bass fishing is some of the best he’s ever seen. He has reported having a few 100-plus fish days, with some big fish over five pounds mixed in.
After hearing that, I can’t wait to get there in July for the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
Bryan said he’s had the best luck fishing with suspending jerkbaits, but mentioned he has started to catch a few more every day on topwater lures. Rainy is the best topwater lake in the world, in my opinion, and it is a technique that works all season long for catching smallmouths.
• • •
The FLW Tour event starts tomorrow (June 5) at Pickwick Lake. My practice has been fair so far, but I’m hoping to find a few more things before the tournament starts.
It’s going to be interesting because all of the fish that I’ve caught have been on offshore humps and points. The problem is, nearly every boat in the field is doing the same thing and the only places I’ve been able to find fish are the obvious structures that everybody else is fishing.
I’m trying to find that inconspicuous, needle-in-a-haystack spot but haven’t do so yet.
When you do get on a school, you can catch fish almost every cast. I’m just afraid without a good start number, which the FLW does by random draw, I might not be able to get on the spots that I want to fish.
We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, save a few fish for me at home!

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