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OUTDOOR REPORT: The Rainy River opened fast this spring

Rainy River The Rainy River opened fast this spring, and open water extends into Four-Mile Bay where the river enters Lake of the Woods. Muddy water resulting from runoff and tributary streams opening has slowed walleye fishing, but sturgeon fish...

Rainy River

The Rainy River opened fast this spring, and open water extends into Four-Mile Bay where the river enters Lake of the Woods. Muddy water resulting from runoff and tributary streams opening has slowed walleye fishing, but sturgeon fishing has picked up the slack in recent days, and reports are very good.

According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, the go-to rig for sturgeon fishing is a 3- to 5-ounce no-roll sinker and a 3/0 to 5/0 hook loaded with crawlers or crawlers and frozen shiners. A good starting point is to anchor upstream of a deep hole in the river and pitch bait into the hole. Heavier gear is recommended, as sturgeon in Rainy River and Lake of the Woods can weigh upwards of 80 pounds.

The spring walleye season on Lake of the Woods, Rainy River and other Minnesota-Ontario border waters is open through April 14. Sturgeon season is open to catch-and-release fishing only through April 23, and a limited harvest season begins April 24 and continues through May 7, followed by another catch-and-release season from May 8 through May 15. Anglers planning to keep a sturgeon during the harvest season first must purchase a $5 tag, and fish must be 45 inches to 50 inches (inclusive) or longer than 75 inches to keep. For more information, check out the 2016 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, available at licensing outlets or online at mndnr.gov.

All of the main landings on the Rainy River are open to boats of all sizes, but walleye fishing likely will remain slow in the river until clarity improves. That could take a few days because the Little Fork River some 50 miles upstream from the mouth opened Wednesday, and the water appeared to be extremely turbid, an aerial photo of the confluence showed.

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Red River

The river is open in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, and all of the boat landings are accessible. Don't look for much catfish action until the river hits about 50 degrees, although walleyes and saugers could be an option on the Red River, where the season is open year-round.

Devils Lake area

Fishing now will shift to ditches and coulees with flowing water that run into the lake. Anglers should avoid the temptation to venture onto the ice and concentrate on areas where they can fish from shore or in a boat. Also, new North Dakota fishing licenses are required beginning April 1.

N.D. light goose update

Light geese continue to be observed moving through the central third of the state, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported Thursday in its spring light goose update. Temperatures are expected to reach the 40s and 50s the remainder of the week, the Game and Fish report indicated. The light goose season, open to snow, blue and Ross' geese, is open through May 15. More info: gf.nd.gov.

-- Herald staff report

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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