Minnesota Outdoorsman - Minnesota Fishing and Hunting Reports



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Except for a few wind days the weather has cooperated and so has the bite. I guided another of my repeat customer groups the Jay Wright, Sam, and Scott guys from around Genoa Ne to full possession limits of walleye some bass and catfish to take home along with big fish meals every night. The bite is very good all up and down the river. The overall avg size of walleye on Oahe is great with most bags coming in with some over 20 inch fish along with some 18 to 19 inchers. I am still fishing less than 6 fow but many boats are deeper catching walleye on Bouncer/Nightcrawler or leeches minnow rigs all the way out to 25 fow. Pulling plugs is also good. Sharpe is also good with limits for most boats. I favor Oahe however because the overall fish size is better along with bigger water that holds increased boat traffic. There are more and more anglers/boats out there every year enjoying the lakes so be prepared for busy boat ramps but with near record water high elevations there is plenty of room to fish. A full summer bite is going on from Chamberlain to Mobridge so take your pick and come on up and catch lots of fish.


On the south end...  Summer limits of walleyes and saugers with mixed in big fish.  Plenty of fish to eat and take home.  Most walleyes coming from 24-32'.  Various techniques working as water warms including anchored up and jigging, drifting with spinners and pulling crankbaits.  Resorts finding fish all over lake.  From Pine Island to Knight and Bridges Islands, north of Garden Island, Zippel Bay, and Long Point.  Some walleyes found shallow when wind is right or bait prevalent.  Gold, pink, glow and orange good starting points.   

On the Rainy River...  River offering mixed bag, nice options.  Walleyes and saugers being caught in go to areas such as holes, current breaks and sand riffs.  Trolling shad raps a good technique to find fish.  Smallmouth bass relating to rocks, bridges.  Pike in and adjacent to bays and current breaks with spinner baits a good choice, especially around weeds.  Sturgeon season opens July 1st for the catch season again.

Up at the NW Angle...  Walleye fishing strong on both sides of the border.  Anglers in MN finding walleyes in 18-26' with various shallow bites popping up.  Spinners with minnow or crawler heating up.  In Ontario, walleyes in 22 - 26' with most anglers jigging with minnows.  Parakeet, pink and white and orange strong colors.  Lot of fish.  Saugers, pike, perch and bass also in the mix.  Muskies open June 15th in both MN and LOW Ontario. 

Managing Bluegills

Managing Bluegills

Until a few years ago, the management strategy for good bluegill fishing—meaning good numbers of hand-size or larger 'gills—was simple: (1) keep the numbers of intermediate-size bluegills sufficiently low so the surviving bluegills have plenty to eat and grow quickly to quality size and beyond; and (2) don't over-harvest large bluegills. That still is an effective management strategy in ponds and small impoundments where the fish community is simple—just two or three species.

The best way to keep bluegill numbers in check? Maintain a high density of bluegill predators in the pond. Typically that predator is largemouth bass. I've repeatedly seen anglers unhooking palm-size bluegills and throwing them on the bank in efforts to reduce the abundance of small, slow-growing bluegills. Good intentions, bad strategy. First, how much fun is it to catch 4-inch bluegills? Second, even the most zealous and dedicated angler can't keep up with the sunfish removal capability of a largemouth bass.

A largemouth bass consumes its weight in bluegills each month when the water temperature is near 75°F. A 4-inch bluegill weighs less than an ounce, a 5-inch bluegill weighs about 1.4 ounces. From spring through fall, a single 1-pound largemouth bass eats at least two dozen 4-inch bluegills or about a dozen 5-inchers each month. Not only are largemouth bass superior bluegill removing machines, they crop 'gills at a much smaller size than do anglers. This is important because a 3- or 4-inch bluegill eats the same food as—and therefore competes with—a half-pound or larger 'gill.

Minnesota DNR fishery biologist Pete Jacobson suggests an opposite strategy may produce quality bluegills that panfish piscatores seek. He found average length of bluegills increased in three of four lakes where the sunfish daily creel limit was reduced from the statewide limit of 30 sunfish per day to 10 per day. During the same period, average length decreased in four similar lakes where the bag limit remained 30 sunfish per day.

Nothing mysterious here, or so it seems—harvest fewer fish, more survive to grow large, and the average length of bluegill increases. Good thinking, but to grow larger, bluegills need food. With lower harvest, more bluegills would survive to share limited food resources, and growth rate should slow. But Jacobson found growth rate increased in the reduced-harvest lakes, and the greatest increase in growth rate occurred in the reduced harvest lakes that had the greatest proportion of large bluegills.

The likely key to why reduced harvest resulted in larger bluegills was not that they survived to live longer and grow larger, but because they didn't begin reproducing until they reached a larger size. Sexually mature fish channel a lot of energy into developing gonads and building and guarding nests, which leaves less energy for body (somatic) growth. By delaying sexual maturity until reaching a larger size, the fish can grow faster because energy is not shunted to reproduction. Jacobson found that average length at maturity of male bluegill increased from 6 inches before the 10-fish regulation to 6½ to 7 inches four years after the regulation was implemented. During the same time period, average length at maturity stayed at 6 inches in the reference lakes with 30-fish limits.

Does that small difference in length at maturity matter? Yes. Faster growth in the regulation lakes translated into bluegills that were 7 to 8 inches long at age-7 compared to 6 to 6½ inches at age-7 in the 30-fish limit lakes. While the 1- to 1½-inch difference in growth may not sound like much, it equates to a bluegill that weighs twice as much at age-7 in the 10-fish-limit lakes as in the 30-fish-limit lakes.

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