This past weekend, we celebrated the 2024 MN Fishing Opener in the beautiful Brainerd Lakes Area!

Brainerd, MN—We caught multiple species of quality fish, and there’s more where they came from!

We targeted walleyes in 4–16 feet of water on large sand or gravel flats, current areas, and first breaks near spawning areas. We found schools of walleyes near developing weeds. We caught fish trolling the Smithwick Rattlin’ Floating Rogue or Perfect 10 Rogue depending on the depth we saw fish roaming. We utilized the 1–2 punch by casting a jig/minnow combo (1/8 oz.) or twitching stickbaits (Smithwick Rogues). Also worth mentioning is pitching a lipless crankbait such as a Booyah One Knocker, ripping a hair jig with a rip/pause/lift/slow drop retrieve or utilizing a jig (1/4 oz.) and swim bait combo (Mister Twister Sassy Swimmer).

Panfish (crappies/sunfish) continue roaming shallow weed flats, channels, bays and areas near pencil reeds in 3–13 feet. Target panfish with three main approaches: (1) jig/plastic under a bobber, (2) bobber/minnow, or (3) bobber/hair jig presentations. We opt for using Lindy Fatboy Tungsten Jigs and Mister Twister Sassy Stingum plastics or Lindy Hair Jigs to catch our fish on most outings. We found crappies near the warmest water in the bodies of water we fished near wood or pencil reeds and sunfish weren’t far away. Move the bobber slightly to elicit bites! If they are present, but finicky, try using a small tungsten jig tipped with wax worms.

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 1–2 feet 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 ½ oz. 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.

Find 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!!