Anglers aren't complaining about weird winter
This topsy-turvy winter continues — and this time, it's a good thing, with fishing actually very good at a time when it's usually slower.
Reports are consistent that the northern bite in the Mississippi River backwaters continues strong. Several fish 40 inches or longer have been reported, most of them being released.
And Lake Pepin, which has been kind of slow in past years, is now a hotspot for sauger in the Methodist Campus area by Frontenac, said Jamie Seedorf of 4 Seasons Sports in Red Wing. Anglers are catching the fish with minnows, jig and minnow, open-water plastics and jigging Rapalas, he said. Another bit of good news is most of the fish are big enough to keep, he said.
But, he also cautioned that the ice there is not as thick as in the past (a couple went through on an ATV last week) but it's strong enough for walking out, he said.
The big fish story of the week is someone catching a sturgeon weighing around 70 pounds at Frontenac. The angler was jigging for sauger when he caught the big fish; they had to drill extra holes to get it through the ice, take a picture or two and put it back.
Backwater fishing is slower, he said.
The report from Evert's Resort below the Red Wing Dam isn't as encouraging. Anglers have been going out but are mostly only catching "stupid little ones." Everything is working but it seems the small ones are beating any keepers to the bait.
The best time is an hour or two just after dusk "then it dies off."
Department of Natural Resources conservation officers also offered a fairly upbeat assessment of fishing and, in some cases, coyote hunting:
• Tyler Quandt, Red Wing: "Numerous limits of crappies, sunfish, walleyes and northern were observed in the bag during the week and weekend."
• Kevin Prodzinski, Zumbrota: "Panfishing action is still going strong in the backwaters and the coyote hunters were doing OK before the remaining snow left."
• Tom Hemker, Winona: "Open-water fishing is back on the river. People are walking out to ice fishing areas with one leg in a boat to get across thin ice."
• Dan McBroom, Rochester: "Conditions for fishing and coyote hunting have become more difficult. The ice on area reservoirs is not good, with a lot of slush on top of the ice. Fishing has been slow but a few fish were seen. Coyote hunters are having a hard time locating animals with the lack of snow cover."
• Scott Fritz, La Crescent: "Ice fishermen had another great week for fishing. Fish in the bag included bluegill, crappie, perch and northern. Many northern 38 inches and larger were seen in the bag. Main channel of the river is beginning to open up."
• Mitch Boyum, Rushford, reported coyote hunting has picked up and success has been good. Time was also spent checking trout anglers. CO Boyum investigated a dumping complaint as well as trespassing complaints. Shed hunters are out in force and are reminded to look over the trespass laws before heading out.