Fresh from the windy city! The opener was too windy for many anglers and drove them off the water, or worse, made them decide to do yard work. Until later in the afternoon when the sun heated up, it was a little cooler than expected. 

All in all, it was an OK opener, with a lot of smaller male walleyes caught on the Eagle River and Three Lakes Chain. This is pretty normal for opening weekends, as the males recover from the spawn a little quicker than the females. They are more aggressive and feed sooner than the females. There was even a little spawning activity left on the colder lakes, but for the most part it was all post-spawn activity.

The walleyes  seemed mostly to be found in the 5- to 10-foot range, except for some of the larger fish still in the deeper water in that recovery phase. As always, jigs and minnows were the bait of preference.

It seemed like fishing pressure was less than last year. We only saw five boats at the T-docks at 9 a.m. Saturday, but by the afternoon when the sun came out the parking lot was overflowing. Then on Sunday, a complete wind switch allowed anglers to fish in different parts of the lakes. 

The best news for many anglers is that with the warmer weather, the crappies moved up into the weeds and shallows on the Chain. It’s fun to use ultralight tackle for this shallow-water fishing. Fish many of the same spots — weeds and wood — that held the perch several weeks ago. Crappie minnows are the best live bait, but they will also hit waxies. For artificials, the most consistent bait has been Cubbie jigs.

A number of anglers reported catching smallies along shorelines. They often cruise those shorelines for pre-spawn feeding. They provide great catch-and-release action.

Northern action in the weeds was good, with the fish feeding on minnows. Mepps and Daredevils also work very well for these fish. It seems most northerns are caught by anglers fishing for walleyes and even crappies, and they do provide great action. A few perch were also caught in the weeds by walleye anglers.

All in all, we will give the opener a B-minus grade. Better fishing is one the horizon when the wind settles and we get some more warm weather.

Good luck and good fishin’.