Minnesota Outdoorsman - Minnesota Fishing and Hunting Reports
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An ode to worm fishing:

A nod to angling simplicity


By Dan Ladd

Worm fishing is simple. If you like to cast, then you throw it out there, let it sink and work a slow retrieve back. On a stream, perhaps you float it downstream by structure and through eddies without too much weight on the line. Or maybe youíre just sitting in a lawn chair or on a dock with a bobber attached to your line and a worm on a hook just waiting for a fish to come by.

Have you ever wondered what came first in the world of trout fishing: the worm or the hook? The two obviously go together like bread and butter and whoever figured that out sure didnít go hungry.

Iím a big fan of simplicity, especially when it comes to things like fishing. Sure, I like gear and gadgets, but I remain a strong advocate of sitting on a streambank, dock or shoreline with a simple fishing pole, rigged with a simple fishing hook with a time-honored bait attached to that fishing hook. This is especially the case when there is a kid involved, or any newcomer for that matter.

When I was a little kid, my family moved from a suburban area out to the country. My siblings and I went from riding bikes on sidewalks to riding them in horse pastures and dirt driveways. Right across the road from our house was a stream that to this day holds a population of small, native brook trout.

My father outfitted us with simple fishing poles. We dug worms out from under rocks, wood piles and in gardens. I remember rainy nights in the spring when my older brother would got out in the grass with a coffee can and return in a short while with it full of night crawlers.

Earthworms worked as bait then, and they do now. Thatís why theyíre sold everywhere, not just at bait shops Ė even convenience stores anywhere there is nearby fishing access.

Trout season is here, and as the ice melts on local ponds, the snow recedes from along the stream banks, and the water temperatures rise, anglers of all ages, gender and skill levels will be getting in some early-season action. And worms will be the chosen bait for many.

Worm fishing is simple. If you like to cast, then you throw it out there, let it sink and work a slow retrieve back. On a stream, perhaps you float it downstream by structure and through eddies without too much weight on the line. Or maybe youíre just sitting in a lawn chair or on a dock with a bobber attached to your line and a worm on a hook just waiting for a fish to come by.

Worms catch everything, not just trout, and this is especially the case in the early part of the open-water fishing season. You always see pictures of bass, pike and other larger species being fooled by anglers using a worm as bait.

But it is trout that we think of when we put that worm on our hook. Maybe itís the wild brookies like the ones in the stream near my home, or those browns and rainbows recently stocked by New York state or a local county fish hatchery. For the more serious trout angler, the worm is on a hook and a leader about 18 inches from a Lake Clear Wabbler being slowly dragged behind a moving watercraft.

Yes, there are other baits and other fishing methods. But a simple hook and a worm has always gotten the job done, and always will.



Mille Lacs Walleye fishing: 1 keeper in May, C&R starting in June


Anglers on Lake Mille Lacs will be able to keep walleye during open-water fishing for the first time since 2015, theMinnesota DNR†said in a news release Tuesday, March 12.

Mille Lacs anglers will be able to keep one walleye between 21 and 23 inches or one walleye over 28 inches from Saturday, May 11, through Friday, May 31.

(Photo by Brian Peterson)

Similar to recent years, a night closure for the 2019 walleye fishing season will be in effect on Mille Lacs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Monday, May 13. The night walleye closure will remain in effect throughout the entire open-water season, which ends Nov. 30.

Catch-and-release fishing for walleye begins Saturday, June 1, and other than the night closure, there are no planned closures for walleye fishing this season.

The DNR is able to allow this limited harvest opportunity because of an improving walleye population bolstered by a 2013 year class of fish that has been protected by conservative fishing regulations, the DNR said. The 2013 year class is starting to produce young fish that appear to be surviving.

The DNR expects a strong increase in the number of anglers fishing during the period when walleye harvest is allowed. Allowing the harvest during May, when water temperatures are lower, will limit the mortality of released walleye associated with this increase in pressure. Both harvested fish and those that die as a result of being caught and released are counted against the stateís walleye harvest allocation.

According to the DNR, the Mille Lacs walleye population has undergone many changes over the past two decades that have coincided with significant aquatic system changes including increased water clarity and decreased walleye productivity; the introduction of zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny water fleas; a changing zooplankton community that may be altering the aquatic food web; and declines in certain forage species, including tullibee.

More information about fishing on Mille Lacs, ongoing DNR management and research, and Mille Lacs area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website at†mndnr.gov/millelacslake.



After initial ice-melt surge, think spring river walleyes