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Fishing report: Lake of the Woods a good bet for Minnesota fishing opener

Lake of the Woods

Anglers heading to Lake of the Woods for Saturday's Minnesota fishing opener should use a ¼- to ¾-ounce jig—depending on wind, current and depth—tipped with a live or frozen shiner, Lake of the Woods Tourism recommends. Pulling crankbaits in shallow water can be a good opening-day option, as well, even if the water has been cold. According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, walleyes in the Rainy River are post-spawn, and while some of those fish have headed back to the lake, anglers still should be able to find fish in the river, a solid Plan B option if the wind blows. Sturgeon catch-and-release season is open through May 15, and many sturgeon anglers have reported catching some nice-sized walleyes on sturgeon gear. Anglers traditionally find good numbers of walleyes up and down the river as well as Four-Mile Bay at the mouth of the Rainy River this time of year. Sturgeon fishing has been excellent with the warm-up in air and water temperatures, Lake of the Woods Tourism said.

For anglers fishing the Northwest Angle area, Lake of the Woods Tourism recommends targeting neck-down areas and points and jig with a minnow.

Devils Lake

The bite is definitely on, and walleyes are most active in 1 to 5 feet of water, Mark Bry of Bry's Guide Service reports. Working wind-blown shorelines is producing the best results, Bry said, and anglers should look for long, shallow bays where the water is warmest. Shallow water that is close to deeper, colder water will not be as productive this time of year, he said.

Look for best action during the mid-morning to late-afternoon hours as the sun comes out and water temperatures rise. Current areas such as bridges and culverts also continue to produce some fish, Bry said, with the best action in the evening.

Walleyes are pretty much spawned-out, and shallow water fishing should continue to get better for awhile, Bry said. Jig-and-soft plastic combos have been deadly, he said. Crankbaits are working as well, but anglers can expect to catch more northern pike. The toothy fish can be very hard on crankbaits.

Red River

River conditions are perfect, and catfishing is outstanding, Grand Forks catfish guide Brad Durick reports. Catfish are feeding aggressively in preparation for the upcoming spawn that is still weeks away, Durick said. With water temperatures approaching 60 degrees, everything is in high gear, and there are lots of big fish in the area, Durick said. Breaklines where the river drops into deeper water and current seams are good starting points. Structure helps but does not seem to be necessary for success right now, Durick said. Anglers should give a spot 15 to 20 minutes and move on if they haven't gotten a bite. All baits are working, and with nice weather in the forecast, this is a great time to tangle with some catfish.

Wednesday night's opening session of the Red River Valley Catfish League produced plenty of big fish. The top team brought in two fish for 41.6 pounds, with 41.1 pounds for two fish landing the second-place finish in the weekly catch-and-release event. That's an average of more than 20 pounds per fish.

Elsewhere in the Grand Forks area, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has stocked Ryan Pond in Grand Forks and Turtle River at Turtle River State Park with catchable-size rainbow trout in the 11-inch range.

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