Early Season Fishing in Northern Minnesota

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Early Season Fishing in Northern Minnesota

Crappie Fishing with Tom NeustromTom Neustrom shares his tips for early season fishing to help you plan your fishing trip to northern Minnesota. He highlights certain fishing species, the lakes to find them, bait delivery systems, and  fishing tips. Grand Rapids, Minnesota is a great place to fish all year long. Right now you can fish for panfish and suckers. Here is his early season tips for panfish:

Bluegills caught on Bass Lake

Wildwood Resort guests caught nice Bluegills on Bass Lake.


Early in the season before crappies and bluegill spawn they will move into shallows to feed. Most people think that they are in there spawning but they do not actually start spawning until the lake temperatures reach 52-58 degrees. They don’t always stay in shallow water as long as the weather is consistent, Cold fronts will drive them deeper and sometimes takes a day or two before they move back to the shallows to feed. I like to find soft bottom bays off of main lakes that has small minnows and bug hatches tat happen right after ice out. Crappies and bluegills key in on these areas to feed even though they are areas that they will return once the water temperatures increase to spawn. For crappies I like a small jig and twister type body or a minnow. Fish anywhere from 1-3 feet under a bobber. Fishing shoreline areas where there are old pencil reeds trees that have fallen into water along the shoreline or points that come off of shoreline out near deep water. Keep moving until you find active fish and then anchor up and fish that area. For blugills there are similar ares to fish but usually you need to be near a dropoff. Bluegills are more susepticle to move off of shoreline structure if the weather turns cold. Again a slip bobber and a small jig with two or three wax worms early in the season is hard to beat. Some of the biggest bluegills can be caught early season. Make sure you practice selective harvest with both crappies and bluegills and return the larger species.  Some area lakes to try for panfishing in the Grand Rapids area are: Bowstring, Sand, Round, Big and Little Cutfoot and Bass Lakes.

We are all excited and counting down for the Minnesota Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 14, 2016. This is when game fish season opens. Tom shares some tips for catching game fish starting of opener and into early to mid June:

Early Season Walleyes Southwood Resort

Southwood Resort guests caught early season Walleyes on Pokegama Lake.


The Grand Rapids area is blessed with many opportunities for multitude of species. Early season walleye opportunities is what draws people to the Grand Rapids area. Most often with the cool water temperatures with the early season a jig and a minnow is probably your best option because you can cover a lot of water quickly and find the ones that are going to bite. Depths of 6-12 feet should be your most consistent feet on walleye lakes but don’t ignore very shallow water and if a cold front comes and goes you might have to drop to as much as 18-20 feet. Keep moving until you find active fish, and don’t get caught up in fishing memories. Meaning this year might not be like last year and the walleyes might be doing something completely different. Some lakes to try in the Grand Rapids area would be Splithand, Bowstring, Winnie, Deer and Moose Lakes.

Northerns caught on Wasson Lake

Loon Point Resort guests caught nice northerns on Wasson Lake.

Northern Pike

Northern pike become a go to species because of the cooler water and the abundance of northern pike in the Grand Rapids area lakes. After the northern pike are done spawning they stay in the shallow areas of most lakes for longer period of time before dispersing. Spawning season for northern pike is earlier than walleye late April early May. Locations to look for active northern pike would be new emerging weeds small rock piles close to shore, and any area that you find has lots of bait fish are good places to start angling for norther pike. A jig and a minnow, casting small crank baits such as shad raps or husky jerks or trolling along the shoreline breaks with the previous mentioned baits should produce. Keeping in mind that northern pike do not school up like walleye and other species so it is important to keep moving and develop patterns to catch active fish. Some lakes to try in the Grand Rapids area would be Pokegama, Trout Lake (Coleraine), Splithand, Winnie, and Big Ball Club Lakes.


Other species that you can fish for in the grand Rapids area are bass and musky, which seasons open later. Make sure to check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fishing website that gives you fish species opening dates and fishing regulations.

2017-04-19T15:40:33+00:00 Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016|Blog, Fishing|

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