Rain is a Good Thing (Red River Fishing Report May 12, 2015)

It’s muddy. It’s messy. It’s cold. It’s windy. But the rain has kicked the fish into high gear. Last night I had a fish on dang near every cast. The water is cold. It dropped 12 degrees from a week ago when it peaked at 64 down to just above 52 right now. The cool down has the fish biting light. I’ve found again that the best presentation has been a nightcrawler or leech on a 1/4oz jig. Fish have been hitting about every cast whether in the channel or in slack water. Just be patient. Let your jig sit on the bottom, or retrieve very slowly.

P.S., if anyone fishing upstream of the 32nd Avenue dam in Fargo finds a 20lb carp with a pink 1/4oz jig in his lip, I’d like my jig back.

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The water temperature continues to rise into the low 60s, which is prime for channel catfish pre-spawn. As long as things remain stable, the fishing should be fantastic for a couple more weeks leading up to the spawn. Cool weather on Sunday slowed fishing down considerably. Fish were finicky on cut goldeye and cut sucker (lots of hits, but no hookups). The fish we did end up catching were on frogs, fathead minnows, and nightcrawlers. I anticipate good fishing early this week, but thunderstorms and cooler weather later in the week into the weekend could shake things up.

Earlier in the spring, I had focused my efforts on the tributaries, particularly the Wild Rice River, however it appears that as we are getting closer to summer conditions, the fish are moving back into the main channel of the Red.

UPDATE (5-4-15): Wasted a bunch of time not getting bit until I switched to a nightcrawler on an 1/8oz jig. Set it on the bottom and just felt for the hit. Lots of action to follow: catfish, carp, and freshwater drum.

Low Water on the Red River (Fishing Report Weekend of April 17-19, 2015)

The water temperature almost reached 60℉ this weekend while the river level maintained a very low level around 14.5′. However, a cold front starting Sunday has dropped the water temperature about five degrees since writing this. Cooler weather this week and potential for rain this weekend should shake things up a bit.

This unusual spring with it’s low water and high water clarity has left many anglers stumped when it comes to finding fish. Position your bait upstream of the deepest holes you can find, and be ready to move if you don’t get any hits. There will be 3-5 fish in a spot, and then they’re gone.

There hasn’t been any impressive size to any of the catfish we’ve caught yet (mostly 1-3lbs), but plenty of them to make for a really good time bending rods.

Warm Temps Mean Early Open Water Season on Red River

It certainly won’t be long until the ice is off the river. Highs in the 50s and 60s for the past few days and forecasted for the rest of the week have me hopeful for an early open water season. Last year it was April before I had cast my first line of the year.

LAST UPDATE: 03-12-15

Detroit Lakes Area Fishing, March 1, 2015

The perch were hot yesterday! I took a buddy of mine out on his second ever ice fishing trip (we got skunked the last time) to a spot that I love to fish in the summer for huge numbers of nice bluegills. What I had heard at the bait shop and read online suggested that we should try fishing tight to weed edges in 7-10 feet of water. We drilled a bunch of holes (maybe a dozen, but through 3 feet of ice, it felt like more) trying to find our target depth and structure, but we eventually settled over a mud bottom in 14 feet of water.

We were still drilling holes and setting up the Eskimo when I dropped a crappie minnow on a plain hook under a bobber down one of the holes, and it was instant perch action. We popped a few more holes around it and set up on them. It took a little bit to refine our presentation on the active rods while the set lines got consistent action. The hot item ended up being a 1/8oz Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon in silver with blue or chartreuse tape Read more

Fellowship, Faith, Friends, and Fishing: Men in Boats 2015

Calling all men! My church, Hope Lutheran in Fargo, ND, is bringing a bunch of guys up to legendary Devils Lake, ND June 12-14th for a weekend of fellowship, faith, friends, and of course–fishing. After check in on Friday night, we’ll hear a great message, sing some great tunes, and get an up-to-the-minute fishing report and seminar before heading back to spend time hanging out together in the cabins. Saturday morning begins with a fantastic breakfast and a short devotional time before heading out on the water.

Devils Lake is an incredibly fun fishery because you can catch a variety of species, and you can fish almost any method you want to catch them. If you like to troll spinners, run slip bobbers, pitch jigs, or cast cranks, there are opportunities for you. Last year the weather was perfect and the fishing was insane. Most of the guys in our group of 90+ caught at least their limit of walleye. Read more

Pitching Jigs for Red River Spring Walleye

While there’s still a thick sheet of ice over all the bodies of water in the upper Midwest, spring is just around the corner! Next Sunday is the last day of walleye season in Minnesota which won’t reopen until May 9th. If you’re getting the open water itch I estimate that in seven or eight weeks (early April), the first fishable open water on the Red River will open up by the dams and warm water runoffs. Walleye fishing in the spring is as unpredictable as the river itself. Rising water levels with runoff from the snow melt mixed with weather that doesn’t seem to want to make up its mind can make catching ‘eyes a bit of a challenge.

Jig Selection

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Pink, white, and chartreuse 1/4oz. jigs

I will warn you, you will lose a lot of jigs fishing by the dams and other places walleyes typically congregate. My suggestion is to buy the cheapest generic jigs available. I almost always start with 1/4oz and go down in size from there. Bigger jigs cast farther and let you cover more water if you’re fishing from shore. The advantage of downsizing to a 1/8oz jig however is that it naturally drifts with the current and will appear more natural to the fish. Read more

What You Need in Your Tackle Box for the Red River

 

The Red River of the North is the boundary water between North Dakota and Minnesota. It contains some of the finest gamefish in the midwest, yet is often overlooked by anglers. During open water season, I spend roughly 80% of my fishing time on the Red River near Fargo. Living so close to such a diverse fishery has allowed me to try out a ton of different techniques to catch everything from walleye and pike in the spring and fall to huge carp, catfish, and freshwater drum during the summer. Variety is the spice of life, and it is very available in the Red River! Though you can catch almost any species of fish in the river on a simple slip bobber set up (and I have), having experience in a variety of techniques is a great way to challenge yourself and will help you excel as an angler on the Red. The great thing about this incredible fishery is that the equipment required is inexpensive and you have a legitimate chance at catching the fish of a lifetime.

Slip Bobbers

QuickSwapSlip bobbers are really my bread and butter on the river. Much of the bottom of the river is covered in downed trees, boulders, and other debris that is easy to snag your line on. Using a bobber, I can keep my bait up off the bottom and above anything I might snag on. Using a slip bobber allows you to adjust the depth with the bobber stop which is very useful as the river level rises and falls significantly in response to rainy or dry weather. If you’re fishing from shore, look for slower moving water to cast your bobber into and try a variety of depths. Goldeye will hit baits on the bottom or just inches below the surface. You’ll be surprised at the variety of depths that you will find fish in the Red River. A good starting point is to start fishing right above the bottom and move up gradually until you fish, or vice versa. Read more

Catfish Rigging 101: The (Carolina) Slip Sinker Rig

Channel Catfish are my favorite fish to target for most of the summer. They are aggressive and put up a great fight. They also taste pretty good in the frying pan. While the season for catfish is still months away, I wanted to post a lesson on how to rig for them. The first year I fished for cats I wasn’t very successful, partially because my rigging didn’t get my bait in front of the fish I was after. A friend of mine saw I wasn’t catching anything and turned me on to this slip sinker rig (often called a “Carolina Rig”) which has helped me catch dozens of channel cats (and some walleye, goldeye, carp, and other bonus species). This simple setup is easy to tie and relatively inexpensive. It makes a great dead stick setup while you fish a more active presentation if multiple rods for one angler are allowed in your state.

What You’ll Need

Sinkers

2-oz "no roll" sinker
2-oz “no roll” sinker

The Carolina rig is designed to hold your bait on the bottom of a river. The current of the river is going to dictate how much weight you will need to keep the bait in place. Stronger current will require more weight, but you don’t want to go too heavy as too much weight can make casting more difficult. I’ve found that two ounces works well for me on the Red River, but if possible, it is nice to have several ranging from one and a half to three ounces in your tackle box for varying conditions. Read more