Outdoors: Open water fishing options are out there for anglers

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer

We have been blessed with an early spring, and the warming temperatures of late have opened up the open water possibilities much earlier than normal. This writer has already experienced open water walleyes and the best is yet to come!

Here are the options available as we get our boats out of storage and retire our ice fishing gear for the season.

Rainy River

This incredible fishery features lots of walleyes and lots of anglers. This fishery located along the northern border of Minnesota will no doubt get an early run as the ice is clearing and we should have a good month to fish there until this area closes in late April.

Many years feature only a small window of maybe a few days, but this season we should have ample time to cash in on the big walleyes.

Missouri River in South Dakota

I just returned from there from my first run of the open water season, and the fishing was awesome as always. There is still ice on the shorelines, but the main river channel is open. This is my favorite early spring destination as the beautiful country coupled with the plentiful walleye population makes it a popular spot for anglers from all over the Midwest. 

Early open water fishing is happening right now. Bob and Patti Schmit experience the Missouri River. (Submitted photo)
Early open water fishing is happening right now. Bob and Patti Schmit experience the Missouri River. (Submitted photo)

The walleyes are now in their prespawn mode, making them grouped up and easy to find. There are typically a couple of hundred boats working the various pools but because there is so much water, you can get away from the crowds and find your own spots. Air temperatures are typically in the 70s and 80s there while we are mired in the 30s here in central Minnesota. The “Chinook” effect gives this area of the Dakota’s their own weather patterns. You can leave central Minnesota in the teens and be fishing in the 80s the same afternoon – got to love that!

Mississippi River

This fishery has been going great guns since January, again because of the mild temperatures. Don’t expect to get too much elbow room there as the Red Wing area features hundreds of anglers in a rather tight space. Lock and dam areas are where the greatest congregations of anglers are as the walleyes are stacked at the face waiting for the spawn.

Saugers are the main attraction and walleyes as well. This is a great destination to get the bugs out and learn the basics of jig ‘n’ minnow fishing.