Recent good fishing and incredible ice out crappie photos by my central Minnesota fishing buddies got me pumped up enough to go in search of a few myself so Saturday was spent with Blake Liend, scouring the North Country, looking for open water.
The first lake, a proven shore fishing crappie hot spot, had too much ice. Water temp was measured at 40º and experience told me that I’d have to wait another week or so. Never-the-less, a half dozen fruitless casts were tossed along the shoreline for good measure.
While doing this, I watched Blake, who was wearing rubber knee boots, wade out to the ice pack and actually stand up on it. Breaking under his weight, he quickly stepped off and walked back to shore. Hearing that familiar fish flopping sound I looked over to see a small largemouth bass jumping around on top of the ice. It made an escape back into the water before the ice rose back to the surface where it belonged. How strange.
The second lake was open but high water kept us at bay, as we were unable to reach a good shore casting spot. We’ll have to bring a small boat back to this little gem. Water temp here was at 44º.
The third and final lake of the day had warm temps, 46º, but there were no fish present. Several well positioned casts made this evident.
That was it. We’d have to travel south to fish with our buddies, even though it would turn out to be a 360 mile round trip.
So with a plan in place, we left Keewatin at five o’clock Sunday morning and drove for over three hours to reach hot, proven, crappie action.
A close knit circle of fishing friends allows one to do this and how nice it was not to trailer a boat that far. All we had to do was jump in one of their boats and get to fishing.
Fishing guide Mike Raetz had been doing well on this little lake, catching and releasing hundreds of nice crappies. Mike was on hand with his boat, as was Chad Peterson with his. Blake and I jumped in with Chad while Robert Nash teamed up with Mike, his long-time fishing partner.
Slowly working our way toward the fishing grounds, Chad pointed out suspended crappie right out in front of the access in 10’ of water. They were holding a little deeper, waiting for things to warm up. Seeing all of those fish made me want to stop and fish right there but I knew we were on our way to a proven hot spot so I didn’t say anything.
Once there it didn’t take long for things to start happening. Fish were being caught with regularity. I was more than content with the action, as it had been three weeks or so since I had caught anything, that being some local late ice crappie. Mike hollered over to us “it’s a little slow right now but it’ll pick up as the water warms up later in the day.” Slow? I thought it was pretty darn good.
And Mike was right. Later on, around 3 p.m., fish were coming to the boat one after another and as much as I wanted to stay we had to pack it in and make the long drive home.
It was well worth the trip. Blake and I both “got bit” on the open water and as far as day trips go, this one was a walk in the park. Sometimes you just have to do it. Don’t sit home and wait for things to happen because it usually won’t.
Last Sunday’s crappie action has me thinking about this weekend’s fishing opener. Where does one go? Are you going to give some of the big lakes a try for the traditional walleye opener? Many lakes we drove past coming home still had ice on them. However, the shorelines were free and clear.
I’m thinking these lakes will be wide open for Saturday’s opener but I’d call ahead and talk to local resorts and guides before getting too excited. If you’re looking for a sure thing in the crappie category, go to Mike Raetz Facebook page or give him a call at 320.260.2709.
Good luck on the opener, have fun and be safe.
~ Greg Clusiau, HSM Outdoors