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Fishing report: Lake of the Woods and Rainy River produce good opening weekend action, Look shallow for Devils Lake walleyes

In addition to eater-size walleyes, anglers on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River also encountered plenty of walleyes too big to keep in the 19.5- to 28-inch protected slot -- and larger -- during the opening weekend of Minnesota's fishing season. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)

Lake of the Woods

Walleye season opened with great success along the south shore, Lake of the Woods Tourism reported in its weekly update. Anglers found limits of walleyes and saugers and landed some big walleyes in the Rainy River, Four-Mile Bay and the main basin of the lake. The go-to presentation was a jig and minnow. Anglers caught fish in various depths, but best action was in 18 feet to 25 feet of water.

Up at the Northwest Angle, anglers boated around a few lingering ice chunks to find walleyes, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. Jigging with a minnow adjacent to shoreline structure, points and neck-down areas produced the best results, with a spike in the action toward evening. Saugers, pike and perch also were in the mix, Lake of the Woods Tourism said.

Devils Lake

Typical for this time of year, anglers are finding the majority of the fish in 1 to 6 feet of water, Mark Bry of Bry’s Guide Service reports. Look for long shallow bays with darker bottoms to find the warmest water, Bry said, which in return will produce the most active fish. Water temperatures in some areas are in the upper 50s to lower 60s, he said.

As for presentation, pitching a jig and minnow or soft plastic combo or crankbait is deadly this time of year, Bry said. Play around with retrieve speeds and cadences and listen to what the fish are telling you, he suggests. Pauses or twitches often will trigger more bites.

Don’t be afraid to use live bait, either, Bry said, as slip bobbers and leeches are very productive when anglers find pockets that hold larger concentrations of fish or when fish are a bit off.

Red River

Catfishing on the Red River is just getting started for another season.

According to Grand Forks catfish guide Brad Durick, there hasn’t been many anglers out, but initial reports are of very tough fishing -- “me included,” Durick says. He attributes the tough fishing to the fast drop in river levels from the recent flood; the Red in Grand Forks has dropped 23 feet in 23 days, Durick said Thursday. Once water levels stabilize after a spring flood, catfish action heats up, and that’s just a few days away, he says.

So far, anglers who find catfish are catching them in midrange to deeper holes with current. It is taking every bit of 5 ounces of weight to keep the bait on the bottom, Durick said. Catfish haven’t shown a bait preference to this point, he said.

River conditions are nearly perfect so expect a much better and more detailed report in the very near future.

Upper Red Lake

By all accounts, walleye action was fantastic for last weekend’s fishing opener. Anglers congregated in the usual spots near the mouth of the Tamarac River and along the eastern and southern shorelines. Early season fishing on Upper Red is as simple as jigging with a minnow along the break line into deeper water.

Leech Lake

Walleye action during last weekend’s fishing opener wasn’t fast and furious, but anglers who spent their time “grinding it out” near well known spawning areas found fish in 7 to 10 feet of water, said Jason Freed of Leisure Outdoor Adventures. Areas with sand and weeds or sand and rock or gravel were most productive, Freed said, and a one-eighth ounce jig tipped with a shiner, rainbow chub or fathead minnow produced 90 percent of the fish for the guide crew over the weekend.

Many of the well-known areas produced fish, Freed said, including West Goose Flats, Star Point, Duck, Pine and Grand View Flats. On the east side of the lake, the areas around Bear Island and eastern shoreline points such as Battle, Five Mile, Sugar and Partridge all had solid reports, as well, Freed said.

-- Herald staff reports