April is here and that means open water opportunities, warming trends and fishing!

Brainerd, MN—It’s still a great time to prepare for open water and look into the gear you need to repair/upgrade for the upcoming open water season.

Species such as sunfish, crappies, perch and channel catfish could be targeted as seasons are open year-round in Minnesota (a valid MN fishing license is still necessary). Inland trout season closed and the next opportunity in the area is for stream trout opening on April 13, 2024.

You can fish for catfish (channel catfish) from shore, boat or fishing piers. Some common locations for targeting channel catfish in the Brainerd Lakes Area on the Mississippi River include: below the Brainerd Dam/Potlatch, Kiwanis Park, French Rapids, Green Point or Sylvan Dam (Crow Wing River). If I’m shore fishing, I will often use a medium-heavy spinning rod with a medium-large spinning reel (size 30) spooled with 30-50 lb. braided line. There are several rigs (20 lb. mono) and ways to catch catfish with a weight (1 oz.) about 1–2ft above the hook, and some common baits include worms/nightcrawlers, cut bait/dead bait, sucker minnows or chicken liver on about a 1/0 octopus hook. Cast to areas where slack water meets current, eddies or in current where it slows down/breaks. In a boat, you can often jig for them vertically in holes and behind slack-water breaks in current. I’ll usually let the current determine my jig weight but half ounce is a good start. Practice safe handling as they have sharp spines on their pectoral fins and dorsal fin; I hold them by the tail and under the belly. I’ll keep you updated for the panfish movements as we continue to monitor ice deterioration on many of our lakes.

Panfish will be in basin areas and shallow weed flats, which will be difficult to access without a watercraft (canoe, kayak, boat, etc.). Target crappies with two main approaches: (1) jig/plastic or (2) bobber/minnow presentations. We opt for using Lindy Fatboy Tungsten Jigs and Mister Twister Sassy Stingum plastics to catch our fish on most outings.

Follow Hawg Hunterz on YouTube. Stay tuned for fishing reports next week from the boat! If you’re wondering where and how to fish the Brainerd Lakes Area or Mille Lacs Lake, tune in to Visit Brainerd for weekly fishing reports by Hawg Hunterz Guide Service LLC! As always, have fun, stay safe and Happy Hawg Hunting!!