The Minnesotan accent is well-known and easily mocked. Yah, sure we use phrases like “you betcha” and could easily trademark “ope, sorry,” but no place is more proud of the unique blend of German and Scandinavian heritage that contributed to the long vowels used so frequently in this northern dialect. The accent isn’t the only thing we held onto, though. Traditions keep us going through the long, slow end to winter. As we usher in spring, we’re one of the last places up north to see the ice disappear on the lake and the snow mounds melt for good. By gathering to celebrate spring holidays, we take time to reflect on a few traditions and soak up the last days of winter and the first days of spring.
Starting with a night-time hike on Friday, March 6, grab your snowshoes and hit the Oberholtzer Trail to explore the woods and wildlife that come out at night with the “Night Eyes Snowshoe Hike” from 7 to 8:30 PM. It’s a method of travel used for centuries and it’s a heck of a lot quieter than the engine of a snowmobile or the roar of an ATV. Get ready for some serious quiet time to connect with nature in a whole new way. This is a self-guided hike, so you’ll be free to go at your own pace and stop to see the owl or fox that share the trail. Start at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and let your curiosity guide you deeper and deeper into the dim-lit woods that are humming with nocturnal creatures.
In mid-March, celebrate the Finnish or Irish Saint (or both) that are traditionally synonymous with the start of spring. St. Urho’s Day is quirky and just what we need to break our late-winter cabin fever. This holiday that takes place on March 16 celebrates a make-believe saint who is said to have driven away the grasshoppers from Finland in order to save their grape crop. Originating in Virginia, MN, Northern Minnesotans take this holiday pretty seriously and welcome anyone to celebrate this bizarre and fun holiday.
St. Patrick’s Day, on March 17, celebrates a saint who is said to have chased unwelcome snakes out of Ireland. This impressive feat was given an entire holiday celebrating Irish culture and history. Pack something green or risk being pinched, or so says tradition.
All of this foreshadows the first official day of spring in the northern hemisphere, March 19. It might not feel like spring up here, but this sweet spot between winter and spring means wildlife galore. Between the heavy walleye activity on Rainy River and wildlife that is just starting to come out of hibernation, there’s plenty to see and do. Whether you choose to celebrate a saint or discover one of the most beautiful landscapes in Minnesota by snowshoe, there’s an activity for you up here. It’s all waiting to be explored, don’t cha know?
With water temperatures on the rise walleye have turned on. They are holding near shallow windblown structure such as points, inside turns and weedy bays. Most walleyes are being caught in the three to ten foot range with a wide variety of techniques. The go-to choice has been jigs (casted or trolled) and spinners tipped with minnows or worms. Long lining crankbaits or twitching jerk baits have been effective options when covering water is important, and last but not least, don’t overlook the ever-underestimated slip bobber tipped with a minnow or leech. Areas of current have proved successful especially on low wind days. In these areas deeper holes (20 to 35 feet) with ¼ to 3/8 oz jigs have been good places to focus. A few fish are being caught on break lines and shallow reefs (17 to 25 feet) directly adjacent to spawning areas.
Most of the lake is now seeing at least some bass guarding their nests. This has been a moving target this season with different parts of the lake warming at different rates and often cooling just as fast with roller-coaster forecasts. Recently however; things appear to have stabilized and the bass are moving up. Deeper parts of the lake are seeing bass just starting to bed while shallower areas have experienced bedding bass for over a week now. Look for bass on shorelines in and around shallow boulders. Top water lures, stick baits, and plastics have been catching fish.
Crappies continue to be shallow in the three to six foot range. Most crappies are being caught using a slip bobber and a minnow. Turns and points in bull rushes as well as on and around sunken rocks have been the key.
With the warming bays baitfish have moved in and the predators have followed. Look for pike to be moving into shallow warming waters. They are well past spawn now and are feeding heavily. Windy shorelines and bays where other fish and minnows are schooling is a good place to start. Water temperature is often the key to spring pike but remember the actual temperature is not as important as the direction it is going. Rising water temps throughout the day can often bring pike into small areas in big numbers. Spoons, larger jerk baits, and twitch baits are drawing strikes.
This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.
Suspending twitch baits can bring some of the most exciting spring action with nearly every species Rainy Lake has to offer. Often however; these baits are fished too fast when the water is cold and fish are not in an aggressive mood. The key to more strikes is in the pause. Even a pause of five to ten seconds is not too long, but to a waiting angler that feels like eternity. Counting the seconds on each pause can help you force yourself to wait. And don’t be afraid to change it up, Jerk-Jerk-Pause two seconds, Jerk-Jerk Pause five seconds. When you get a strike remember what you did and repeat it.
With water temperatures in the high forties to mid-fifties walleyes have remained slightly behind in their traditional movements. They are being caught in bays where water temperatures are slightly above that of the main lake. Windblown shorelines and points have been most productive. 1/16 to 1/8th ounce jigs tipped with a minnow or plastic have been effective. With the cold weather the need to slow down and be methodical can’t be understated. Action on spinner rigs is starting to pick up. With warmer weather in the forecast the bite is only expected to get better.
Due to the cold temperatures Smallmouth have yet to begin nesting. Most fish are being caught near their traditional spawning area staging up on windy points, large boulders or any other significant structure near potential spawning sites. Suspending twitch baits have worked great. A long pause is the key to more strikes. As always plastics and hair jigs are great go-to options.
Crappies are shallow in the three to five-foot range. Most crappies are being caught using a slip bobber and a minnow. Turns and points in bull rushes as well as on and around sunken rocks have been the key.
Pike have finished their spawning weeks ago but remain shallow and near spawning areas. Bays protected from larger bodies where water has had a chance to warm faster are a good place to start. Spinner baits, spoons and most significantly suspending twitch baits have been most productive.
-Our fishing report is courtesy the Rainy Lake Guide Association.
-Photo Courtesy Minnesota Arrowhead Association
-This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.