Spice Up Your Angling

February 4, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson


Musky fishing has taken off and are being pursued all over the Midwest.

Musky fishing has taken off and are being pursued all over the Midwest.

Each November, I assemble the best photos of my fishing trips throughout the region. I then upload the top twelve to the photo site Snapfish.com and make a calendar for my parents and grandmothers as a Christmas present. While showing the 2007 edition to one of her friends, my grandmother shared in her awe at the variety of fish in our area, and how my brother and I could catch them all.

“She stated that she had only seen walleye, perch and northern before,” my grandma relayed to me in a recent phone conversation, “but I told her you catch everything in between, like trout, crappie and largemouth.”

I was once again reminded how good it is to be an angler in the upper Midwest. With proactive agencies stocking and managing fisheries with a variety of species, the options are limited only by the number of waters. As one travels east through North Dakota and into Minnesota, the number of options becomes greater and the chance to catch a variety of species grows.

From Bowman to Brookings to Brainerd, the walleye is king. There is no doubting that fact. The tasty fillets and elusive nature of the fish draws anglers from around the globe to places like Devils Lake and Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota, and Mille Lacs and a rebounding Red Lake in Minnesota. But walleye are found in waters both big and small, and many lakes and reservoirs throughout the region boast fishable populations to match local angler enthusiasm. But they are not the only species that anglers get amped up for.

That same excitement grows each year for anglers pursuing muskies. I am witnessing first-hand my brother’s conversion from an angler into a muskie maniac. Where our conversations once focused on bass tactics, he now speaks of foot-long stickbaits, monster bucktails, and heart-racing follows by 50-inch fish at boatside. Viable populations are making their way west through stocking programs as muskie fever sweeps the country.

Crappies are abundant in many Midwest waters

Crappies are abundant in many Midwest waters

Panfish, such as crappie, bluegill and perch are universally popular among anglers throughout the region and tighter limits reflect the increased pursuit of these pint-sized pisces. A common target of anglers in Minnesota before the walleye opener, panfish are sought almost year-round.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass, though not as popular in northern climes as they are south of the Mason-Dixon line, still provide some of the best recreational fishing in this region. Largemouth take well to the weedy stock-dam reservoirs of 20 to 80 acres found commonly throughout North Dakota, and are a common catch in the lakes of Minnesota. Smallies inhabit flows draining into the Red River, and are exciting to fish in the rock-strewn shield lake areas of northern Minnesota.

Stocking of various trout species adds a cold-water aspect to the local fishing scene. Rainbow and brown trout are planted in lakes scattered throughout the region and can be found in the small streams of the Black Hills in South Dakota and the “Little Montana” region of southeast Minnesota.

Pike, white bass, carp, ling and catfish round out the variety of species anglers can hook up with. There are so many sporting qualities to both navite and stocked species that fishing for just one type would limit an angler’s enjoyment.

Get to know the lakes and flows around you this summer and take a trip somewhere to add a few species to your photo album. Variety is the spice of life, and the wide range of fish to chase throughout the waters of the upper Midwest will certainly add some flavor to your fishing experience…in our outdoors.


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