Sunday, July 03, 2022
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MN Fishing Pros - Lake Winnibigoshish and Beyond

MN Fishing Pros are Powered by Amsoil Fishing Pro Guides Jesse Worrath, Jeff Skelley, Charlie Worrath, Jason Boser are Pro Guides with L&M SupplyFind the MN Fishing Pros on Facebook Find the MN Fishing Pros on Facebook

A Family Fishing Trip

A Family Fishing Trip

by fishing guide Jason Boser

We could talk about how to catch the big walleyes, northerns, slab crappies, big bull sunfish, or even big jumbo perch. But I am going to talk about a nice day on the lake getting our next generation into fishing.

Here are some tips on getting our younger generation hooked on fishing. I hear all the time from kids, "fishing is boring". If you are a young kid sitting in the boat for 3-4 hours with nothing on the end of your line, and Dad and Mom hollering about making a mess, it would be boring. So how do you get them interested in fishing?

Young girl with walleye fish

Number one for me is to get them their own equipment. It does not have to be a $100 St. Croix rod, just a rod and reel that fits their size. Get them their own little tackle box and a weight for them to practice casting. Now you can go out to the yard and practice casting and get them ready. One thing about kids of all ages: they love to cast. In the boat, on the lawn, even in the trees.

Next we get them to the lake. Now, if you have young kids you want to get to a place that will offer non-stop action. We have hundreds of lakes like that around the Grand Rapids area. Size is not important right away. Go into a shallow little bay where the lily pads are up and a lot of the times you can even see the fish swimming around. Put on some bobbers with a worm and let them go. Sight is the key. Kids love to see things, so when they see the fish and they see the bobber go down they will love it. Now remember, even with all the seeing and catching after a short time they will get bored, so if they want to play with the worms or the minnows let them go, it's their experience. Also if you don’t have a boat, you can still get out on some of the fishing piers, or even along the shorelines around the area.

As they get more mature you can start going to a bigger fish, maybe spending some time on some walleye, northern, or bigger panfish. Just remember they will not have a lot of patience yet, so keep it short. If they are not biting get out of there and try something new. One thing that works for me, with younger kids in the boat, is when fishing for the bigger fish, the first few times I will set the hook and let them reel it in. They are not yet real good at setting the hook on big fish so you do it for them. They still get the feel for a decent fish on their line. Hopefully you will get a couple fish in the live well. That will entertain the kids for a long time. They might fish for a bit, then they will go look and play with their fish and have fun with the whole idea of looking at a fish they caught in the live well.

Here's another note: once you get a few fish in the live well and they are keeper size, the next step is to clean them up and throw them in a pan. You can show them how it goes from catching to eating. I have seen the excitement on many kid's faces when we are all sitting around a fire eating fish that they caught. It is an experience that can’t be beat.

So remember, when going out with the kids, it is their time, not yours. Keep it short; don’t make them dread being in the boat for hours. Let them do a few things their way (as long as it’s safe). Some worm bedding, a tangled mess of line, a few dead minnows on the boat is really no big deal. Let them have some fun.

As they get older they will have more patience and will want to tackle more and more on their own and hopefully you will have an angler for life on your hands.

Have Fun Fishing!

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If you break fishing down to its most simple terms, catching fish revolves around two things: finding the fish and then getting them to bite. Pre-spawn crappies are no different. The key is finding them. To do this you must find not only structure, but also the right structure.

Crappie catch

In early spring, crappies move in from the deep water where they have spent the winter, having done really not much of anything. When they get shallower and find some structure, they kick back and relax for a time. Then, when the water temperature says it's "go time", they're off on a feeding binge to prepare for the rigors of the spawn.

So what is that magic structure? Is it something 21st Century technology has discovered, or something revolutionary fishing media pundits have uncovered? Nope, it's that same "old panfish fishing hole" type of area you fished as a kid after ice out. Remember where your grandpa or dad took you out for crappies before walleye opener? You guessed it. Find that same type of brush pile, stump or beaver house and nine times out of ten you'll find crappies hanging around. They may even be around "cribs" that have been legally placed in lakes to attract panfish.

Keep in mind that spring crappies most often hold in shallow wood. By this I mean the type that can be found in just about every lake. Look for trees that have fallen in along the shoreline. If you know of a lake that has wide-ranging stump fields, fish these. If there is a beaver house, zero in on it. Also remember that due to the sun, north ends of lakes will warm more quickly, so look there first.

To a crappie, wood is a wonderful buffet. Algae and moss grow on submerged wood. This holds microorganisms, which in turn attract minnows, which in turn attract crappies. A regular circle of life revolves around these piles of waterlogged wood. Their lumps and tangles and branches provide both cover and food. A crappie gravitates toward these like a deer to acorns.

Because it plays such a big part in the spring movement to spawning areas, if the wood maintains its "integrity" (minnow attracting), you can usually count on such structures to draw crappies year after year, sometimes even in summer and fall. Crappies basically go to the same place every year to spawn and are very aggressive at this time of year. If you find them and then get the bait in front of them, they'll eat almost anything.

It is, however, never a given. There are few glitches to be avoided. One is losing tackle in all that wood. To avoid this, I prefer a small 1/16th oz. Northland Tackle jig. I'm not much for this color and that color, so I use the Northland Tackle's parrot colored jig for all lakes and all species. Because it's a multi-colored jig, I believe it covers all options for watercolor and clarity. Moreover, if you really think about it, how many colors variations are there in shiners, chubs, leeches or nightcrawlers? Not many, right? The only really natural multi-colored bait is probably the crayfish and what fish doesn't like a good old crawdad?

The major part of catching spring crappies is, of course, location, location, location, but another major component is the presentation. We have established that a multi-colored jig, or your preference, will be used. Now comes the style aspect of the presentation, how to present minnow morsels for those crappies to suck in. One thing I have found is that this is not the time for aggressive jigging. Instead, utilize short lifts and drops. They will work much better. If you are pitching in toward shore, obviously you must retrieve fast enough to keep over the wood. If you are jigging vertically over wood, raise and lower the rod tip about a foot, 18 inches at the most.

I will work a crib or deadfalls from top to bottom, beginning just under the surface and keeping the jigging motion tight. I then let out more line to work farther down, still raising and lowering the jig with short lifts. Many times you will have to do this all the way down to bottom and even through tangles of limbs and branches.

If I get a strike about five feet from the base of the wood, I know to be ready for the next bite at the same depth.

Sometimes, however, crappies will only bite a jig/minnow dangled six inches or less from wood. If the bait was out even just a foot they wouldn't come get it. Be prepared for such finicky slabs. Although this is not the norm, it is a common situation after a cold front. For some strange reason and probably a good one, (if it did not occur there would be no crappies left), crappies turn completely negative. If this happens, sometimes the bait needs to literally bump the wood, then be prepared to donate to the tackle shops, as you will lose your share of jigs.

On cloudy days or days with unsettled weather, sometimes the fish might swim out a little. However, I really can't recall that many early spring days when the crappies were that willing to move out more than several yards from wood cover to take any lure.

Another approach that is especially good for our younger or less experienced fisher-people, in shallow water six feet or less, is to cast a 16th oz. Northland Tackle jig that has a fixed float two or three feet above the jig. Let it sit for a short time, then jig the rod back a few times. This causes the float to glide and stop, with the jig swinging back and forth and up and down under the water.

The fall of the jig after a cast and an ensuing side-to-side jigging motion can bring wood-holding crappies up to take the bait. Even before the float comes to a complete stop, crappies will grab this pendulum-swinging jig. Bear in mind, however, because crappies see only in front, to the side and up, anything under them will not be noticed. Start high, feather down and don't go too deep.

More than anything keep it simple. Look for wood and then entice crappies from their cover. If you do find them and get to catch them, remember how fragile their ecosystem really is. Take only what you need to eat, catch and release the big ones. Think back to how many of our great panfish lakes currently either do not have many big ones any more or there are too many little ones. A fish caught and cleaned and eaten can never be caught again.

Walt Disney might have his "Wonderful World of Color" and Louis Armstrong might have sung about how "It's a Wonderful World" and "knock on wood" might be a good luck talisman, but only those of us who have caught these sparkling black and ivory crappies and witnessed how they slice their way to the surface in the cold prespawn water know the thrill of finding this "wonderful world of wood" that houses these awesome fish.

Be safe, have fun and leave some for tomorrow and beyond.

Charlie Worrath is a full time fishing guide from Deer River, MN.
He may be contacted at: (218) 246-2159.

(l - r) Jason Boser and Jason Mitchell pose with a Lake Winnie walleye

Jason Boser appearing on an episode for the television program Jason Mitchell Outdoors on Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota. (watch the video)


Jason Boser was a guest on the television program, Jason Mitchell Outdoors on Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota. Mitchell filmed with guide Jason Boser (Grand Rapids, MN) of the Minnesota Fishing Pros Guide League . The anglers targeted walleyes by vertically jigging 3/8th ounce Northland Tackle Fireball Jigs in the Moonlight Color tipped with shiners. Most of the big fish were caught of the deep humps in 23 to 25 feet of water. According to Mitchell, it took about four hours to film the segment. All of the fish were caught on main lake structure. The anglers snap jigged to catch most of the fish. "Winnie has been fishing extremely well for anglers recently and this lake remains a solid fishery for producing nice walleye," adds Mitchell. The segmentsaired on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Midwest in the winter of 2014. All programs are produced in high definition format. The film crew based out of High Banks Resort.

Mitchell took over the television production of the late Tony Dean over four years ago. Upcoming segments will air in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois. Jason Mitchell Outdoors has been one of the highest rated (raw Nielsen Ratings) fishing shows on Fox Sports North over the past two years and reaches over twelve million households each week. The show will air on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Midwest on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am.

Photo: Television host Jason Mitchell and guide Jason Boser pose with a great Lake Winnie walleye caught recently while filming an episode for Jason Mitchell Outdoors.

Jason Mitchell headquarters out of High Banks Resort on northern Minnesota's Lake Winnibigoshish fishing with guide Charlie Worrath. The anglers discuss some early season shiner patterns and showcase some deadly shallow water spinner presentations for catching these fish.

Mitchell took over the television production of the late Tony Dean over four years ago. Upcoming segments will air in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois. Jason Mitchell Outdoors has been one of the highest rated (raw Nielsen Ratings) fishing shows on Fox Sports North over the past two years and reaches over twelve million households each week. The show will air on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Midwest on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am.


by fishing guide Charlie Worrath

Springtime walleye fishing is some of the finest walleye fishing of the year. This is due to several reasons. After a long winter and the rigors of spawning, the fish have a huge appetite to fill. Fortunately for us fishermen and fisherwomen, available food sources are in short supply. The baitfish population has been eaten down throughout the winter months, and new food sources haven’t developed yet. For instance, the fry of the new year haven’t grown to an eatable size. So without a lot of food sources to choose from, your offering is very tempting.

Early spring walleye catch in Deer River, MN
Early spring walleye catch

Jig and minnow combo is probably the most popular presentation used at this time of year, by far, and for good reason. With the colder water temps of spring, you don’t need a lot of jig action. Sometimes just dragging it along the bottom is all that is needed. The reason is with cold water temps, the fish's metabolism is still in slow mode and they're not moving very fast. I like to give just a bump to hop the jig up just a couple of inches. As the water warms later in the year you can get more aggressive with the action on your jig.

Tipping the jig with a chub or shiner minnow at this time of year is your best choice of baits. Not saying you can’t catch fish with other baits or methods, however, I believe this gives you the best opportunity for success. Also, the jig and minnow combo gives you a great chance of catching any other species of fish the lake has to offer. Adding a few perch, crappies, or nice northern to the catching action is always an added bonus, especially for young ones.

The size of the jig that I use is the smallest size by weight that I can get away with, which usually is 1/8 oz. It depends on a lot of factors, but mainly the wind will determine the jig weight. The other main thing is to tie the jig directly to the line, and don’t add any jewelry, with the one exception: tying a swivel up a couple of feet is all right. It keeps the line from twisting and doesn’t seem to affect the jig action. Line size 6 to 8 lbs. work just fine.

In the first couple of weeks look for walleyes around two main areas: chasing shiners, as they are about to spawn, or their spawning beds. If the lake you're on has shiners, and you can locate them, the walleyes will be close by.

Remember, it’s spring, and the water is still cold so fish slow. If you think you're going too slow, I would say slow it down some more. The chances are you're going too fast. That is why slip bobbers work well early in the year. The bait just hangs there and gives them the time they need to eat your bait. The bites are usually a light soft touch. Using the rod tip, I like to drop the jig down to the fish to give him time to get the bait all the way in his mouth. This way you don’t get as many skinned minnows. On real cold front days, when the bites are short and you can’t seem to get a hook into them, try opening the bail. Let them take it like rigging for a count of 5 or more. I have seen that technique really make the difference at times.

One of the overlooked walleye hot spots in this area is our river systems. They can be extremely good for fishing, spring or fall. The best tip I can give you if you haven’t fished rivers that much, is to fish them just the opposite of lake fishing. For instance, walleyes in a river will lay in a drop waiting for food to be carried downstream to them. Lake walleyes sitting on a shoreline break are usually looking for bait to be blown in from the deeper side. On bends in rivers, fish the outer edge, unlike a lake point where you would fish the inner side. Just think opposite and you’ll do just fine. Jig fishing or rigging works well. The weight size will be determined by the current of the river, again use the smallest size you can get by with.

Good luck and most of all be safe.

Give my personal recipe fish and game batter a try: Charlie’s Gone Fishing (mild) or Jason's Fishing Fever fish batter (seasoned).

Charlie Worrath
35653 Johnson Rd.
Deer River, MN. 56636
(218) 246-2159
Click or tap here to email Charlie

Meet Charlie Worrath

Watercraft Used: 18.9' Alumacraft 185 Competitor, powered by a 90 HP Yamaha motor using AMSOIL Marine Products.

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P.S.  My wife Terri sells 100% organic wild rice at Terri is ready to answer questions and fill your order. You can also purchase my Fish and Game Batter or Fishing Fever Fish Batter there.

Moose Lake Wild Rice Co. C-N-J Savory Fish Batter
Charlie Worrath with Crappie

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