Winter wants to hang on and the river ice is slow to go. As of this morning, Wednesday, the ice is out past Silver Creek, but not yet to Baudette. Yesterday, Kooch County opened up the Vidas Landing, so the three accesses upriver from Baudette; Birchdale, Frontier and Vidas, are now open. Fishing, I understand, is good; catching is a little challenging. One person I talked to caught more slot fish walleyes than smaller ones. They also caught several pike while fishing for walleyes with a jig and a minnow. I understand that those people who were targeting sturgeon were doing very well. Sturgeon fishing is catch and release. With just a few days left until the season closes, there are a lot of fishermen around. Looks like the weather is going to be ok thru the weekend.
Diane and I took a ride to Frontier this afternoon. The river is open and there are 18 rigs at the landing. The river is open approximately five miles past Frontier. In a normal year, it would open at the Vidas Landing in a day, Silver Creek in two or three days and Baudette by this weekend. There is not a lot of in-flow to the river, so that could change river opening by a day or two.
While at Frontier, there were two boats going down river and one going up. With that much movement, I’m guessing that maybe the bite is a little slow and they are moving to try and find fish.
Looking upriver from the Frontier Landing – April 2nd
Friday was a beautiful day up here in the north country; sunny, near 50 degrees and the snow and ice was going fast. The river was opening faster that what I wrote yesterday and it appears to be on track to open up four or five miles a day. Although, the forecast for the next three or four days is to be cold and that may slow it some. I understand that up at Birchdale they are pushing smaller boats about 50 feet across ice to reach the water. There were a number of boats and I understand fishing is good.
Friday afternoon and evening, Nick, Ryan, Topper and I fished by the bridge. We were looking to catch a pike early and that was slow; only one flag and no fish. As the sun was setting, we switched to walleyes and during the last hour, we caught four walleyes; two nice eaters and a 21″ and 22″ slot fish. We also caught five pike, three small ones and a 28″ and 32″. We were surprised to catch that many pike that late in the day. There are some nice fish in the river now.
Ryan with a nice 22″ walleye
Topper with a 19″ walleye
Nick with a 28″ pike
A nice 32″ pike caught on a jig stick
We normally have some owl activity at this time of the year, but it seems that the last year or two there has been more than usual. The past few weeks there has been numerous sightings and talk about the Great Gray Owl. This winter, there have been a number of sightings of the Hawk-Owl. Although there are small resident populations of these birds, many of those that are here now have come south from Canada in search of food. The Great Gray is a rare bird to see in the U.S. and birders come from all over the country to see them. We also have the Great Horned, Snowy, and Saw-Whet Owls. Most of these birds are active at night so we don’t see much of them. My friend, Topper, gets out and about a lot and has been fortunate to get some excellent photo’s of a couple of birds.
An update on the fishing front. There was a small boat in the river at Birchdale. The river wasn’t open very wide and it will probably be a few days before any larger boats are able to use the access. It may be up to a week before the river is open at Frontier. That doesn’t leave much time left until the season closes. I’ve heard that some fish are being caught at the Lighthouse Gap and some people have caught some larger fish in the river. Pike fishing has slowed. They may be up small ice-covered rivers and creeks ready to spawn.
A Great Gray Owl
A Little Saw-Whet Owl
Now this is ice fishing
After a short vacation in Arizona, we returned to see that we are still having winter here in northern Minnesota. We are anxious for some snow to melt.
I haven’t fished in about three weeks and the reports I’ve heard since we returned home haven’t been good. It seems like the only good reports are those coming from the bait dealers. On Sunday, I saw a couple of people fishing pike by the bridge and went down to see what was happening. Here it was Topper and a young lady, Kristan. Kristan is with DNR fisheries; lives in Minneapolis, and was up here for a weekend of fishing. They were with a group that fished out of Morris Point on Saturday and fishing was poor. They were trying to catch a pike before she headed back home and had fished most of the morning with only one flag. It was about noon and Topper had a committment for the afternoon and Kristan wasn’t quite ready to quit, so I volunteered to fish with her for a while. I went and got a dozen sucker minnows and some warmer clothes. It seems like Topper had hardly left when we started getting some action. In the next couple of hours we caught eight pike; released five little ones and kept a 23″, 24″ and a 28″. It was Kristan’s first trip to Lake of the Woods and she enjoyed the pike fishing.
I’ve added a couple other pictures. One is of Brian and a 27″ walleye he caught on the river one evening after fishing the lake all day after the Bosch finish. The other is of Nick and a 37″ pike he caught a week ago while we were gone. There are still a few pike to be caught.
Kristan with a nice 28″ pike
Kristan with the 23″, 24″ & 28″ pike that we kept
Brian with a nice 27″ walleye
Nice with a nice 37″ pike
How do you write a fishing report when there isn’t much to write about? It’s not easy.
Three of the Bosch Boys, Tom, Ken & Earl, wrapped things up last weekend and then took the weekend plus some vacation to spend a few days fishing before heading home. Tom’s brother, Dan, and two friends came from Michigan to fish with us. They fished the Lake for four days quitting about three each afternoon to come back and fish the river until dark. I fished with them for the first three days and if it hadn’t been for the Vexilar to keep me entertained, they would have been long days. We fished off the end of Adrian’s access, Long Point, Zippel Bay and Rocky Point. The first day we brought about a dozen fish home and it got worse each day after that. I didn’t fish the evenings on the river with them, but they would catch a walleye or two and one evening Mick and Brian each caught 27″ walleyes. The day I didn’t go with them, I fished pike for an hour and then Earl and I fished the late afternoon. We ended up with six pike, the largest 27″. The next day, six of us fished pike for most of the mid-day and only caught five small ones.
I think there is a consensus that we need to have the snow gone off the ice before the fishing picks up.
Ken with a nice walleye
Earl with a pike
Mick with a walleye
Dan, Earl, Ken, Mick, Tom, Brian, Brad, Arvid by the Zippel Bay Igloo
The other day, four drivers were taking one of the Bosch employees to the airport in Bemidji and then bring some vehicles back to Baudette. On the way down, we were discussing the upcoming rod building class at the school; one that I’ve taken a number of times. I commented that the reason I take it so often is because I’m a slow learner. Jeff replied that it’s maybe more that I’m just a “fast forgetter”. That’s probably more accurate and, although I’m not the best at it, I enjoy seeing a fish caught on a rod that I’ve made.
Fishing remains pretty much the same on the river. One or two fish per shanty; just enough to dirty up the fish cleaning board. Over the course of two or three evenings, everyone will catch a fish or two. I caught a small burbot (fresh water cod) the other evening, the first one of those in a very long time. It used to be that you might as well quit fishing at dark because all you would catch after that would be burbot. The DNR tells me that they really don’t have an answer as to why the decrease. They have no evidence of a large die-off; they are just not reproducing . It may be a climate issue as they do better in cold water. They began to notice a decrease of numbers first in the river and then the lake and the decrease has been through out Minnesota. Some smaller fish are beginning to show up, so maybe they are coming back.
Earl with a keeper
Tom with a keeper
Getting the burbot to pose for a picture before his release was not easy
1st Place in the “Little Fish” category
The Bosch winter test season is winding down. The are only a half-dozen employees here getting vehicles and equipment shipped back to Michigan and putting others away for the summer. The end of winter is not far off.
Friday, I took one of the Bosch employees to the International Falls airport. I took a time out and had lunch with Julie, a classmate who has lived in International Falls for about as long and we have lived in Baudette. We grew up a block apart in Wadena and went through twelve years of school together. Over all the years, the only times that we’ve seen each other have been at ten-year class reunions. We had a nice visit over lunch.
Thursday evening, Jeff, one of the Bosch Boys, caught a 28-1/2″ walleye and took over first place for the winter test big fish contest. He gave some thought to putting it on the wall, but decided that there may be another one sometime and released it. There are three guys left here to get a bigger one and they only have about a week to get it done.
I fished with Ken and Earl on Friday evening. Earl and I each caught a nice walleye; they were the only two bites we had. Friday, I fished pike by the bridge for a couple of hours during the day and then fished with Tom in one shanty, while Ken and Earl were in another. Earl caught a pike and Ken a nice walleye. Tom and I caught two walleyes and a sauger. I had caught two pike earlier so Tom had a mess of fish to clean.
Jeff with his 28-1/2″ Walleye
Walleyes and Pike for Technique Tommy to clean
With the walleye bite having slowed, I turned my attention to pike. Pike fishing hasn’t been that great either, but I’ve managed to get enough for a batch of pickled pike and I’d like to try a pike paddy recipe that a friend gave me.
Early Saturday afternoon I went down by the bridge for a couple of hours. Only one flag on the tip-up, but it was a good one; a dandy 38″ pike. It was a slot fish; 30″ to 40″ must be released. I caught a small one, maybe 18″, on a jig stick and released that, so I came home with nothing.
The other evening, one of the Bosch Boys, Jeff, caught two nice walleyes; 23″ and 26″. Those were the only two fish he caught.
Saturday morning it was almost twenty below zero when I got up and by early afternoon it was fifteen above. The sun is starting to have some impact and it won’t be long until the snow starts to melt. That should improve fishing.
38″ Pike. A pretty fish
Jeff with a nice 26″ walleye
Night fishing has really never been the thing to do on Lake of the Woods or the Rainy River. Fishing the river at night would get you sturgeon or burbot; not much for walleyes. A warm summer a few years ago caused a large die-off of burbot and it’s not very often that one is caught these days. With the short winter days, it’s almost dark by the time the Bosch Boys get to their shanties and over the next couple of hours they might get entertained by a sturgeon and once in a while they’ll catch a walleye as late as 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. Some time ago, I heard that one of the guys caught a nice 18″ walleye at 8:00 p.m. and night before last Mike caught a nice 23″ walleye at 7:00 p.m. That’s long after most of us have given up and gone home. I should add, that it was Mike that was the guide for Sara on her first ice fishing venture.
Last night I fishing what would be the normal hours for the local guys; 4:00-6:00 p.m. and caught a nice sauger and a 17″ walleye to keep and released two small walleyes. Water conditions are good, not much current and lots of ice.
Mike with a nice 23″ walleye caught well after dark