Minnesota Fishing Report
TWIN CITIES METRO ICE FISHING-
- 13″+ of ice across the metro. Plenty of cars are out on the ice these days. Remember to drive slow, unbuckled and window down- just in case. Recent rain will cause some mess but won’t hurt the ice, especially with cold night temps for the next week.
- Fish across the state have been weirdly lethargic except in very specific bite windows. The up and down temps are probably a contributing factor.
- Warmer temps have had metro fish more active. Drilling and jigging lots of holes to follow the schools has been effective.
- Tip up’s with medium suckers and shiner minnows set at mid water column have been super effective for pike.
MN/WI DRIFTLESS TROUT FISHING-
- Very comfortable temps for fishing last week! Late afternoons have been seeing snowmelt which can muddy some streams and lower the water temps. Rain might muddy the water and cool the water temp, fish might be lethargic for a bit.
- Cloudy days have been much more productive than sunny days.
- Streamer fishing has been productive on warm cloudy days. Midges and tiny black stoneflies have been hatching on the warm sunny days. Small pheasant tail nymphs, zebra midges, jig style perdigons on a tandem rig have produced the best numbers.
- Shelf ice is prevalent in some slower, shady areas. Find faster, deeper runs for open fishable water.
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Fishing For All and Minnesota Bragging Board
This is one of our ice fishing program participants from last weekend. She recently immigrated to the US and caught her first fish ever at our event! Her and her family are HOOKED!
Practice makes perfect! We are nearing the end of our winter indoor casting clinics. These have been a huge success and we look forward to doing more in the future. Here guide, Ricky, is going over our casting acronym L.A.T.S.
Evan’s 2023 Fishing/Water Forecast
The 2023 fishing season is just around the bend! Our sights are fixed to the horizon expectinglonger days, melting snow, and open water.
I’ve gotten the same question from a number of people over the past month, “What do you think fishing will be like next year?
Short answer- My magic-8 ball says it will be awesome like it is every year!
Long answer- it depends on how much more snow and rain we get.
We have been in a drought cycle the last few years punctuated by several intense storms. By mid-summer the last two years, our streams, rivers, and lakes have been very low which can be good and bad. In some water systems, low clear water makes for some really amazing fishing conditions:
- On the St. Croix and Sippi sight fishing for bass, carp, and muskies.
- On our Driftless trout streams, low water in the mid-season can be great for sight fishing but can get hot and stress the fish out. Thankfully our fish are smart enough to move around to colder areas and we have a lot of ground water influx in our streams. If we have a cooler winter and spring that stays in the 40’s through March, we will have a gradual snow melt and avoid major muddy waters and floods but maintain good flows into summer. If we have 70’s in March, we will get a large fast snow melt with more major mud and flood situations and have less water to get us into the hot months.
Then come the April and May showers, which the past couple of years have been torrential and done some real damage, especially in Western Wisconsin. If the rains come faster and more intensely during snowmelt time, we can expect lots of muddy flooding for several weeks. If things stay within normal parameters, we’ll see a couple weeks of muddy flooding until the foliage starts to grow again by early May.
We are just around average snowpack across the region and don’t have any major snow events coming in the near future, plus we’re maintaining our warmer temps, so my prediction will be snowmelt starting by early March with a gradual melt through to April. That is good for troutstreams!
If you are a spring carper or early season pike angler, we want as much flooding as possible on the sloughs and marshes- so keep your fingers crossed for spring rain! The Croix and Sippi in this scenario will likely have a shorter run off season, making drifting and wading viable much sooner in the season.
Lakes have not been treated fairly the past couple low water years and many lakes I’ve been ice fishing on are down 1-4ft from normal levels. Lakes can become oversaturated with nutrients in low water and have massive algae blooms as a result. Low water through winter can also cause low oxygen levels and winter kills. So if you like lakes, you’ll want to pray for rain alongside with the carpers!
My money is on another low water season all together.
We appear to be in a 10 year water level cycle (this is just my unprofessional fishing guide observation), but in the early 2000’s we had very low water, then in 2010-15 we had extremely high water, and now we’re back down to very low levels again the last few years.
What can be concerning is how long the drought persists on top of many other limiting factors, especially for our groundwater-fed streams and lakes. It’s also been interesting in the last couple years to see the extremes in flows–from record highs in spring to record lows in summer and fall across the board.
Thankfully overall, our fisheries are strong and adaptable, and most of these scenarios aren’t dire yet.
Our fishing season will be fun as always, and a true joy of it all is learning to ride out the ebbs and flows of these natural cycles.
See you out there! -Evan
Book your 2023 Fishing Adventures
We offer super fun fishing experiences for many different fish species on all the best areas of the state:
- St. Croix River
- Mississippi River
- Southeastern Minnesota Driftless
- Western Wisconsin Driftless
- Urban Waters
We also enjoy working with all skill levels of anglers- beginner to advanced. Our mission is to grow anglers, and we want to teach you as much as possible while you’re on the water with us.
We adhere to an “experience first, fish second” policy, ensuring that you’ll be safe, comfortable, and well-fed while learning to fish and reeling in the big ones.
We tend to book about a month out for day trips and our camps are starting to fill up now, so start thinking about what experience you’d like to have and reach out soon!
Dream big! Try something new! And reach out with questions!
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**Coming Soon- Fishing For All Youth and Family Summer Camps!
Minnesota Fishing Guide Tips
Tying a Leader for Nymphing YouTube Video with Ricky Phetsavong!
Hit the link to watch FFA guide, Rick, on YouTube as he teaches us how to make a hand tied California and euro nymph leader set up. He talks about the uses and setbacks of each set up. This is a great video to help you get prepped for mid-winter nymph fishing and beyond!
Smallmouth Bass – Micropterus dolomieu
Smallmouth bass are often touted as the hardest fighting freshwater fish for its size! If you’ve ever caught one, you can probably confirm the claim. I often think a 12″ smallie fights as hard as a 20″ trout.
Smallmouth bass are members of the Centrarchidae fish family, and are related to bluegills, crappies, largemouth bass, and other panfish species. This group of fish are characterized by their spiny rayed dorsal and anal fins, comparatively large mouths with sandpaper teeth, and being utterly glutinous.
They are native to the southern ⅔ of Minnesota and many Upper Midwest river systems. They can still be found in great numbers throughout the Mississippi and St. Croix River watersheds. Smallies can also be found now in over 500 lakes across the state. Surprisingly enough, they were stocked long ago into the Rainy River and Lake Superior watersheds, including the BWCA where only largemouth bass were present before.
Smallmouth Bass are characterized by having evil red eyes, brown sides and tiger stripe markings. Their top lip also doesn’t go past their eye, which is a good differentiator between them and largemouth bass. However their coloration can change depending on the time of year and the water chemistry. For instance, I’ve found the fish in the upper St Croix, which has very tannic tea-stained water from bog infiltration, can be dark copper to nearly black. The Zumbro River near Rochester has more spring infiltration leaching through limestone, and the bass can be nearly lime green in color.
Smallies are slow growers, but can reach impressive sizes. In general, it takes 4-5 years for them to reach 12″, 6-7 years to reach 16″, 8-11 years to reach 18″, and 12-14 years to reach the fabled 20″+. Obviously there’s many varying environmental factors that can slow or speed their growth, namely water temps, water chemistry, and their main food source. Males are usually smaller and top out around 2-3 lbs. Females can grow much larger, reaching sizes of 3-6 lbs!
The MN state record was 8 lbs from West Battle Lake.
Their main diet is crayfish, bait fish, and aquatic insects. They will also gladly slurp down frogs, small mammals, and just about anything else that they can fit into their mouth. Smallies are a blast to fish for, especially with a fly rod! Not only are their home waters beautiful, they are aggressive eaters and fighters. Large streamers and poppers can garner some impressive attacks during their prime time, and large nymphs or crayfish imitations can get them when they are being more lethargic.
If you haven’t experienced the world-class smallmouth bass fishing here in Minnesota yet, definitely consider signing up for one of our St. Croix Bass Camps or booking a Bass Float Trip.
This is a local, native species worth checking out!
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It’s All In The Podcast – Hiroto Hayashi
Here are a few podcasts that many anglers should have on repeat whether you’re fishing with bait, lure, or fly.
To note, I don’t get political with what I listen to. As much as people hem and haw over their favorite icons, I believe there’s nuggets of wisdom to be had everywhere. If there’s good information that I can learn from, grow from, and gain more success from on my limited days on the water, that’s all that matters to me. Period.
These four podcasts are ones I come back to again and again for that “good podcast feeling” that I can’t put my finger on.
As a true multi-species angler (I don’t discriminate at all), these podcasts have helped me catch more fish, learn something new, or scratch the fishing itch that I get when I can’t get on the water fast enough.
Anchored with April Vokey
Vokey has a light and informal interview style that lends itself very well to the numerous storytellers she has on the podcast. From personal histories to historical events in the outdoor world, there’s something for everyone. (I listened to her podcast with Joan Wulff recently. Joan’s incredible history and accomplishments in the world of fly fishing are often overshadowed by her late husband’s legacy. I learned so much from this episode.)
From the site: Join renowned angler April Vokey as she explores fishing, hunting, foraging and homesteading through intimate, face-to-face conversations with some of the outdoor world’s most influential people. Her intense curiosity drives her to take a behind-the-scenes, vulnerable and honest approach with her guests that often ends up uncovering never-before-heard stories.
The Orvis Fly-Fishing Podcast
The description doesn’t do this podcast justice. Rosenbauer is truly a giant in the fly fishing world and is known for nearly innumerable accomplishments. This podcast is an absolute must have in anyone’s podcast rotation.
From their site: The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast provides weekly tips from acclaimed fly fishing author and lifelong fly fishing enthusiast, Tom Rosenbauer. Get the most from your time on the water!
Even though this podcast has ended, each episode provides a glimpse into the angling community from the views of freshwater and saltwater anglers around the world. What I appreciated about this podcast was its focus on so many different topics. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get when I listened. It was fun. And irreverent.
From their site: Fishing can be slow. Podcasts about fishing shouldn’t be. That’s why we created Bent, the unapologetic fishing podcast that moves faster than a tournament bass boat, but doesn’t take itself near as seriously. Host Joe Cermele welcomes anglers of all backgrounds and interests, from hardcore crappie jiggers to dry-fly purists to offshore tuna addicts. Even if you’re just mildly fish curious, this podcast has something for you: regional fishing reports, tackle tips, trash talk, etymology, weekly news, trivia, even suggestions on how to piss off your fishing guide. Come for the soggy cooler sandwiches; stay for the raccoon-eyes tan lines.
Cut and Retie
The show description alone should give you a great idea of the feel of this podcast. The host of the Bent podcast went rogue so he could exercise his freedom to talk about fishing.
From their site: No matter how you fish or what you fish for, Cut & Retie with Joe Cermele. Never techy, always metal-injected, let your guard down and stop taking fishing so seriously, because it’s just fishing, man.
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Thank you to all of those in the Fishing For All community! Without you, we wouldn’t be able to make the memories, share the fish stories, or grow the awesome world of fishing for new and veteran folks alike.
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