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FISHING REPORT: Walleye season closes with a bang on Rainy River and Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River

The spring walleye season closed April 14 with a bang as the water in the Rainy River cleared up, and anglers again started catching walleyes and saugers of all sizes, Lake of the Woods Tourism reported in its weekly update.

Walleye season on the big lake and adjacent border waters is now closed until the May 13 Minnesota fishing opener, but anglers still can fish for sturgeon, pike and suckers. Anglers have boated several large sturgeon during the past week, and fishing has been excellent, Lake of the Woods Tourism reported. Use a 3- to 4-ounce no roll sinker, a 1- to 1½- foot leader and a circle hook loaded with frozen shiners and crawlers for best results. Anchor the boat upstream from a deeper hole and pitch the sturgeon rig into the hole. Heavy equipment is preferred for battling these fish, which can weigh upwards of 75 pounds.

Pike are becoming active in bays. Ice just went out on the lake and most bays, and water temperatures are rising, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. Suckers don't appear to be running yet but that's not far off.

Devils Lake

The lake now is ice-free, but most of the fishing activity continues to take place along upstream coulees farther north in the basin. Anglers are catching pike and walleyes, although the action reportedly has slowed from the hot bite of a week or two ago.

Randy Hiltner, northeast district fisheries supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Devils Lake, said the Lake Region Anglers Association has put in the docks at several public accesses, including East Bay, Creel Bay and Six-Mile Bay. Look for fishing activity on the lake to heat up as water temperatures rise, with shallow bays traditionally producing the best early season action.

Red River

Fishing activity is light, but anglers venturing out are beginning to catch a few catfish on cut sucker minnows, Grand Forks catfish guide Brad Durick reports. Durick said he encountered numbers of cats "busting" the surface of the river earlier this week, which is a good sign the fish are becoming more active. The Red River in Grand Forks was at 18.63 feet as of noon Thursday, and the water temperature was about 51 degrees. Look for catfish action to heat up even further as water temperatures rise. Walleyes are a good bet this time of year, as well, for anglers who pitch a jig and minnow or jig and soft plastic combo below the Riverside Dam rapids.

Bemidji area

Anglers waiting for the Minnesota walleye opener have been out on area lakes in search of crappies and sunfish, reports Paul Nelson of Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Increasing numbers of panfish should be moving into the shallows as water temperatures exceed 50 degrees, Nelson said.

Best action typically is late in the afternoon, when water temperatures are near their peak for the day. Mud-bottomed bays and necked-down areas that warm up faster than the main lake usually are the best bets for finding crappies and sunfish early in the year, Nelson said.

-- Herald staff report

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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