Minnesota Fishing Report: “Ross’s Fishing Review”

“We have a renewed sense of life here in Otter Tail Lakes Country. The lakes are opening up. Ducks, geese, loons, gulls, redwing black birds, robins and shorebirds abound. We have made up a lot of ground in the past couple weeks breaking free from the frozen shell of winter. There is no turning back, and it’s great to see, smell, and feel all of it. On my drives around Ottertail, I can’t help but notice all the open lakes. It’s liberating to see water in motion rather then still and confined. As the sun continues to hold high in the sky in late April, it’s warming tendencies warm the shallow back bays of Ottertail’s small lakes. The warming bays promote the first open water fishing of the season. Being able to toss a line to water and watch a cork float it very satisfying after a long winter of dropping a line into a small hole in the ice. Panfish and bass find themselves jammed against the shorelines of these shallow bays. It’s the warmest water on the entire lake and it promotes microorganism’s growth, it’s the birth of the water world’s food chain for the season. Fishing can be both tricky and productive in these fickle areas. The fish are very responsive to sunlight/warmth, so if the clouds cover the sun, then the panfish are apt to swim out to deeper water and scatter. So it’s best to fish these areas on sunnier days because the fish are concentrated along the shorelines.

Approaching the fish can be a trick too. The very early fishing—this week—is easiest/best from the shore. You can quietly approach the edge of the water and cast out and over the fish. This prevents your bobber from spooking the fish when it lands. When you over-cast your spot, simply retrieve your hook and bobber until they get over the fish (you should be able to see at least a few fish). In many cases, it’s normal to be fishing just ten feet from where you’re standing and a good hook-set could potentially plop the fish into the brush on shore. Long rods and polaroid sunglasses are very necessary. A simple small hook, like a number 8 or 10 and an angle worm, chunk of crawler or a wax worm will work. A bobber, a few inches of line and your hook should be all the weight you need. If are having trouble casting far enough, it’s usually because the line on your reel needs to be changed or you don’t have enough line on your spool.

As for boat fishing, these shallow water areas can be a challenge. Some are located so far back into bays that even trolling motors will spin mud. Once you find yourself close to a “fishy” area start casting far and towards shore. If you can see fish from your boat—you might be too close. Remember, early spring water is very clear and the fish can see you. It’s in their nature to be very concerned about overhead attacks. Be patient and let things settle down. If the fish are located along the shore you’ll need to use small bobbers that don’t make a huge splash when they land. The main trick to boat fishing these areas, is that you don’t spook the fish. Enjoy early season fishing opportunities in Otter Tail Lakes Country this week.”

Ross Hagemeister