2017 Minnesota Fishing Opener Wrap-up

Overall it was a great start to the 2017 Walleye Season.  Leisure Outdoor Adventure fishing guides found themselves predominantly on Leech Lake, but other lakes as well over the course of the weekend and with active walleyes joining them in the boat.  Here is a recap of the fishing report for North Central Minnesota.  Here is your Leisure Outdoor Adventures weekly Fishing Guide Report for Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, and the Brainerd Lakes Area.

Leisure Outdoor Adventures Opening Day group photo

The opening day weekend group photo with their catch

Fishing Report From The Leisure Outdoor Adventures Guides

Leech Lake

Leech Lake Walleye

Leisure Outdoor client with a nice walleye along side guide Toby Kvalevog.

West End - On the West end of the lake, fishing was relatively good depending on the time of day and weather conditions. Saturday’s bright skies and calms conditions made it tough for some. Finding green cabbage weed was a good way to find success catching walleyes in 5-7ft of water using a jig and a plastic or jig and a minnow. Areas around Goose Island such as West Goose Flats, Hardwoods, Meadows, Star Point, and Grand Vu Flats all produced fish throughout the weekend in 4-11ft of water. Finding the schools of bait fish and fishing those areas was key. With some wind on Sunday the bit was much better in these areas. Some of the points were ok, but nearly as good and more than likely because of the fishing pressure. 1/8th KenKath Long Shank or KenKatch 3D eye jigs tipped with shiners, rainbows, or plastics were the best presentation. Sometimes it was dragging the jig, other times it took snapping or twitching it to get them coaxed into biting.

East End - Fishing on the south and east side of Leech lake was great over the weekend.

Walleye with jig in mouth

Nice spring walleye caught on a jig

The majority of fish caught came from the Pelican Island, Annex Reef and south shore next to Trappers Landing. Key depths were in the 6-10’ mark, and keeping your baits away from the boat was key with the limited winds each day. The majority of fish caught were in the protected slot, however there were plenty of keepers that hit the livewells for the fryin pan. Jig and a spottail minnow were all that was needed, along with a little aloe vera afterwards to help ease the pain to all the sunburns!

Mille Lacs

Mille Lacs kept true to it’s name for the Minnesota Walleye/Bass Opener 2017, it truly was a walleye factory! I would give you the best presentation to use, but from my experience out there on Sunday, every method was productive. The walleyes have been chowing down in 6-20 feet of water, and just like most walleye lakes, fishing in the wind will normally be better a little shallow. 10-13 feet was the best depth for us on Sunday with the bigger fish coming from the sand/rock transition areas.

Leech Lake Walleye

One of our clients with a nice opening day walleye

The “North End” or basically Garrison all the way to Malmo has lots of hungry walleyes that are ready to chomp on anything that gets close to them. Get out to the “big pond” for this amazing bite, it truly is one of the best ways to get a bunch of walleyes! Once you get tired of catching walleyes, and your tummy starts thinking about a fish fry, switch tackle and find a weedy bay or boat harbor. The crappies and sunfish are in the shallows right now and they are chopping! A second way to fill the livewell on Mille Lacs right now is to change your leader to 20 lb Berkley XT and go pike fishing. The pike are super active right now in the same areas the walleyes are hanging out it. The best part is that when you set the hook, it could be a pike, walleye, or smallmouth! Now that is fun! Be sure to stop in at Tutt’s Bait and Tackle, they will give you the best bait and the most recent update for your best possible experience on the amazing Mille Lacs lake!

Brainerd Lakes Area

Walleye season is open! What a beautiful weekend to spend in a boat. Fishing was good for some and slow for others, but when it is opener sometimes it can b

Walleye in the boat on Leech Lake

Happy fisherman with his opening day weekend walleye

e hit or miss. For those who hit, fishing shallow was the best. A jig/shiner/plastic pitched into rock/weed transitions or areas of new weed growth was the ticket. These areas hold all sorts of food, provide higher oxygen levels for hungry walleyes, and these areas also provide shade.

Gull Lake, Round Lake, Whitefish, and North Long all had some pretty decent reports for those who went with the shallow approach. With the full moon bright, many of the walleyes were feeding at night, so the middle of the day typically was the best. For those who decided to go out at night, it was worth it. On most lakes, 6-15 feet of water held the most active walleyes. During the windy times of the day, depths as shallow as 3-6 ft would be holding active fish.

Full Stringer Bait & Tackle

Full Stringer Bait & Tackle

Crappies and sunfish have invaded the shallows! Many people had both walleye and panfish gear with them this weekend, and doing so kept their rods bending all day. Look for the warm areas and pencil reeds for these spawning panfish. Please, please, please remember that these fish are spawning, and just for a short period throughout the year, practice selective harvest. These fish are super sensitive to overfishing because of their vulnerability this time of year, and small lakes can really take a beat down (and big lakes as well).

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