I know that many of you have been waiting for the first fishing report of the year and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be writing it. Covid is in the rearview mirror. There are no border restrictions or issues. When you come up to go fishing, crossing the border will be just like it was in 2019 or earlier.
We worried about ice out and debated what to do. I got to the lodge on May 1 and it was full on winter. You could have driven a tractor trailer on the ice, there were 4 – 5 ft. snow drifts in front of the cabins, and the weather forecast was terrible. And then the sun came out. You cannot comprehend the power of the sun until you watch an ice out on Lac Seul. It was not a super cold or snowy winter up here and when the ice went out, it went fast. Official ice out for Lac Seul in 2023 was May 15.
I watched the walleye fishing forums and just shook my head. There were many threads about how low the water was on Lac Seul this year. Sure, compared to last year’s once in a 100-year flood. It is lower than that. If you want facts, go to Lake of the Woods water control board website and look for yourself. We are smack dab in between 45 – 50% for the past 40 years. Lac Seul is always low in the spring and fills up in the summer. We have not had much rain recently, but the snow melted and the water went up 1.5 ft. since May 1. This is normal.
Since ice out, Spring has been normal to on the warm side. Water temps have skyrocketed and the trees are almost all fully leafed out. The progression has been surprising. The main lake is close to 50 degrees and some of the back water bays are already over 60. It happened fast.
We constantly debate, but the guide crew consensus is that the pike spawn is half done. There are still a few pre-spawn fish, some were definitely spawning today, but many are already done and on the move. The walleyes have even more of a head start on their annual migrations. The warm forecast will only amplify the progression.
For the week, we caught and released 23 walleyes over 27 in., including 3 – 28s, 3 – 29s, and 1 – 31.25. Most of those fish were found in our usual spring spots. Live bait was important, but when water temps exceeded 58 degrees, plastics were just as effective. Volume was pretty good for May, but there were a few spots that did not produce like they usually do.
Pike fishing was good, but not at the same level as 2022. For the week, we caught and released 40 Northerns over 37 in., including 6 – 40s, 2 – 41s, and 1 – 42 in. monster. Spoons, Jakes, Husky Jerks, and Johnson silver minnows were all effective.
Small mouth bass were not targeted, but it still feels like there are more and more each and every year. For the week, we caught and released over 100 as incidental catch along with 7 – 19s and 1 – 20.
The seven-day forecast looks like summer and we are expecting a rapid shift into transition.