Outdoors column: Can’t wait walleyes

You could wait for the big Minnesota opener to go walleye fishing, but if you’re the impatient type there are some great options with red hot action going on right now.

One of the better ones requires some travel time but getting on Lake Francis Case at Chamberlain, S.D. is worth the effort.

That part of the lake routinely loads up with thousands of walleyes early on and they’re usually not all that fussy about what they’ll accept as suitable fare.

The author made a road trip and ran into a bunch of nice fish like this.
The author made a road trip and ran into a bunch of nice fish like this. Submitted photo

To give you an example, yours truly was there a few years ago for a Scheels employee on the water training session, which included a contest whereby the goal was to catch walleyes on as many different presentations as you could. The result was amazing with fish boated on just about everything including classic presentations like dragging and pitching jigs. But we also caught them casting crank baits, trolling cranks, trolling spinners tipped with crawlers or minnows behind bottom bouncers, and even with jig and minnows suspended below slip bobbers. I soon realized there was a ton of fish and they were hungry, even with the negative effects of a cold front that should have cooled things off.

Professional fisherman Rick Olson of Mina Lake, S.D. has fished the area for years and offers some advice for loading the boat.

“The hot bite starts now and can last right through May and into June and there are some things to look for to help you get in on the action with water temperature being the major key, he said.

“Right away with colder temps you can expect the fish to hold out deep in maybe 14- 18 feet of water where you can catch them by dragging a jig tipped with a minnow. As the water warms up you’ll find more and more fish shallow (as shallow as a couple of feet) where you can catch them just about any way you want including pitching jigs or cranks. And you can still find fish out deep that will bite and basically they’re just about everywhere. When things get going it’s not uncommon to have 100 fish days. Most of the fish you’ll catch are nice keepers and you really don’t get a lot of big ones but there are some caught and the state record had been taken here.”

See you on Lake Francis Case.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.