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AREA FISHING REPORT: Walleye season off to a good start in Minnesota, action heating up on Devils Lake

Lake of the Woods

The Minnesota Fishing Opener was a success, and anglers reported catching good numbers of walleyes and saugers along the south shore, Lake of the Woods Tourism reported in its weekly update. A jig and a minnow or frozen shiner was the ticket while anchored up, with best action in depths ranging from 10 to 20 feet of water. Water levels on the lake and Rainy River are about 2 feet low, so anglers need to pay attention if cruising the shallows. Anglers encountered similar success up at the Northwest Angle, where fishing a jig and a minnow along shorelines produced walleyes in a variety of sizes, Lake of the Woods Tourism said.

Devils Lake

Fishing is heating up with the weather, Mark Bry of Bry's Guide Service reports. Anglers are encountering numbers of fish in 1 to 5 feet of water, where walleyes and pike are actively feeding. Walleye fishing is going well, and anglers in places are catching pike on almost every cast, Bry said.

Casting jig-and-plastic combos or crankbaits along windswept shorelines is a deadly tactic for shallow fish, Bry said. Slip bobbers with leeches also can be effective in shallow water. Look for the shallow bite to be good for a few more weeks before fish start to slide out to deeper water.

When fishing shorelines, Bry said anglers should look for "pockets" along each shoreline that will hold the majority of fish. Subtle changes such as soft to hard bottoms often are good, along with rock piles, timber and cattails, Bry said. Not all shorelines are productive, so anglers should keep on the move until they find active fish, he advises.

Another key is to look for the warmest water temperatures, water that is a bit stained and areas with bugs, minnows and developing algae, Bry said.

Red River

Catfishing on the Red River went from "pretty good" to "really, really good" in short order over the past week, Grand Forks catfish guide Brad Durick reports. River conditions are perfect right now, he said, and there are many cats in the 7- to 15-pound range showing up, along with some bigger fish. Catfish are feeding heavily in the middle of the river and on the faster current seams. Anglers will need 4 to 5 ounces of weight to keep the bait in the strike zone and shouldn't sit in a spot more than 20 minutes without a fish, Durick said.

As far as bait, as long as it is fresh, the fish will eat it, and suckers and goldeyes seem to be working about equal, Durick said. The goldeyes are running right now and are fairly easy to catch for anglers in search of good bait, he said.

Upper Red Lake

Walleye action was excellent over the opener, and it seemed that if anglers had bait, they were able to catch fish, Northwoods Bait and Tackle in Bemidji reported. There were a few reports of 50-walleye days, the report said. The shallow channel has been dug out, so there is no problem accessing the lake out of the public accesses, according to the Northwoods report.

Bemidji area

Anglers reported catching walleyes in 8 to 10 feet of water along shoreline breaks and around the base of cabbage beds, according to Northwoods Bait and Tackle. Walleyes were hitting one-eighth-ounce jigs tipped with a shiner or fathead, along with live bait rigs tipped with a leech. Anglers on Lake Irving were catching a few fish using similar tactics, the report said, but a decent crankbait bite also was reported on Irving. Shore anglers fishing the river after dark did well over the weekend, with rumors of walleyes up to 27 inches being caught, the Northwoods report said.

Leech Lake

Opening weekend found walleyes in 4 to 11 feet of water, depending on where anglers were fishing, according to Jason Freed of Leisure Outdoor Adventures. Action improved throughout the day as water temperatures rose.

As on Lake Bemidji, eighth-ounce jigs tipped with shiners and rainbows are the ticket, along with live bait rigs. Areas to target include Sucker Bay, West Goose Flats, Bear Island and any of the points that have some wind blowing in. Look for action to improve with the continued increase in air and water temperatures, Freed said.

-- Herald wire reports

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