Brainerd Fishing Report: Shorelines are Melting, Fishing Opportunities are Becoming More Available
The warming trend has us thinking open water! Shorelines are melting, songbirds are migrating, and fishing opportunities are becoming more available every day. Channel Catfish on the Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers are going to start feeding more frequently, panfish will soon move into shallow bays or into spawning habitats, and many people are excited about the nearing Minnesota Fishing Opener on May 14, 2022; which opens the seasons to target Walleyes, Sauger, and Northern Pike. Anglers are also able to target Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass beginning on the MN Fishing Opener, though the regulation is catch and release only through May 27, 2022.
Take A Mom Fishing Weekend is May 7-8, 2022, which means mothers who are residents of Minnesota can fish without a license during Take a Mom Fishing Weekend for species that have an open fishing season; species such as sunfish, crappies, perch and channel catfish could be targeted.
Catfishing can be done from shore, boat or fishing pier; and some common locations for targeting channel catfish in the Brainerd Lakes Area on the Mississippi River include:
Below the “Brainerd Dam”
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 (sz30-40) spooled with 30-50lb braided line. There are several rigs and ways to catch catfish with a weight about 1-2ft above the hook, and some common baits include worms/nightcrawlers, cutbait/deadbait, sucker minnows or chicken liver on about a 1/0 octopus hook. Cast to areas where slack water meets current, eddys 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 1/4oz 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.
Good luck out there, stay safe and happy fishing adventures!