Outdoors column: Spring Fling: Walleye opener netted many happy returns

The first fish came on the first cast and was on as soon as the jig and minnow hit the bottom.

That’s the way to start the walleye season and the action was red hot.

Although my most recent openers have been spent on Leech Lake (and have been highly productive) my brother and I decided to give Red Lake a try, which proved to be a good move. That first quick fish led to another and another and it never really slowed down.

The author caught this walleye on Red Lake during the opener. Submitted photo
The author caught this walleye on Red Lake during the opener. Submitted photo

It took less than three hours to put together a nice limit of keepers between 16 and 17 inches, with quite a few overs caught a long with some smaller fish that could have been kept but we didn’t want it to be over that soon.

Dragging 8-ounce jigs tipped with a minnow in 7-8 feet of water was the hot ticket and no surprise. There were fishermen in a little shallower and some out deep and everybody was catching fish but that 6-8 foot range was as good as it gets.

We marked fish after fish and were never out of them. With a light breeze blowing we were able to drift along nice and slow and lift and drop the jig and walk it along the bottom.

You could easily feel the strike, especially with the 6-foot 3-inch spinning rod from 13Fishing I was using.

It produces the utmost in feel and allows you to pick up on the lightest of strikes. After the strike you had to wait a little bit to set the hook or you missed too many.

With the colder than normal spring; shiners were hard to find and most bait shops didn’t have them yet.

With a stroke of good luck on the way up a shiner sign was just being posted as we pulled in to the Gosh Dam place for dinner.

We also picked up some fatheads which proved just about as productive as the shiners all though spot-tails did have an edge.

That shallow pattern should last for a few weeks or more, especially with the late spring and colder water temps.

It might spread out a little and maybe move deeper but the fish are there and more than willing to accommodate. See you on the water.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.