The 2020 open water season is here, and the much-awaited Minnesota Fishing Opener is this coming Saturday, May 9th. Despite a statewide Stay at Home Order, the lakes are predicted to as busy as any other year. Luckily, fishing is an approved activity in Minnesota and in my opinion just being in the wilderness is great for mental health!
A tough blow was issued to Boundary Waters Anglers on Monday as the Forest Service announced that the Boundary Waters would be closed to overnight camping to align with the Governor of Minnesota’s Stay at Home Orders, while Day Use in the Boundary Waters IS allowed. This unfortunate ruling has left many Basswood fisherman in a scramble to find non-existent Day Use Motor permits, even all of the Fall Lake Only permits have been reserved. Just so there is no confusion, with Fall Lake Only permits you are not allowed to cross the portage into Newton or Pipestone. I would expect to see Forest Service and DNR agents paying extra attention to this scenario.
Despite the frustration in regards to the closures, this coming fishing opener is touted to be a prosperous one! The ice on area lakes has just recently melted away, and water temps will be in the mid 40’s to 50’s. Perfect for the walleye spawn. Because the DNR offices are closed, we have not been able to find out if Pipestone Falls is closed to Caribou Point on Basswood Lake or if it is open. However, fishing is open on all of Fall lake, including the Power Dam. I would expect to see a huge fleet of boats attempting to remain 6-feet apart floating around the foamy waters of Fall Lake Power Dam. Fishing for the small males might be the easiest bite in the area. For more of a challenge, anglers will spread out on Fall Lake searching for those elusive 20 plus inchers, a good place to try this year might be the Newton Falls.
For Day Use Anglers on Basswood, expect Lewis Narrows, Goose Narrows, and the islands around Caribou Point to be hot spots. If the Falls are open this year, it will be busy from the Falls and beyond.
The best bet for bait for this coming weekend is going to be minnows. Many bait shops are pushing the walleye mix, consisting of Shiners, Rainbows, and Chubs. I personally choose to pass on the mix and go straight for the rainbows, they seem to last longer and catch just as many fish as the shiners. Pike fisherman should be thinking dead bait for the spring bite. Large northerns are cold and conserving energy choosing the easy meal rather than chasing spoons, spinners, and plugs. Crappie are just starting to bite; crappie minnows have been the bait of choice for those. All of these baits can be purchased fresh and locally.
If I was thinking about a day canoe trip this weekend, I might be on the Kawishiwi River, a great place to easily find some spring walleye!
If you are traveling to Ely from out of state or from a distance, please be respectful of our community, and residents. The good folks of Ely have been resilient at keeping our community safe during this COVID pandemic. If you are going to enter any of our businesses, please wear a face mask, and limit your exposure by sending just one member of your group into a business if any supplies are needed. If you’re on the lakes, please no congregating at campsites or boat launches. Practice social distancing when you can and be safe. If we can all practice common sense this season, hopefully the lakes will remain open and our bellies will be filled with golden walleye!
Best of luck this season, and keep your line wet!