We are approaching the 2024 MN Fishing Opener, and the Brainerd Lakes Area has awesome fishing opportunities for many different species of fish!

Brainerd MN—We’ll target walleyes, northern pike, bass (catch and release), inland trout and more! Stream trout fishing offers additional fishing opportunities in the area.

For walleyes, we will search 4-16ft of water on large sand or gravel flats, current areas and first breaks near spawning areas. The first lure of choice will be trolling the Smithwick Rattlin’ Floating Rogue or Perfect 10 Rogue depending on the depth we’re seeing fish at midnight. We’ll longline troll slowly through these areas with our eyes on the Garmin Sidevu for schools of fish. A great 1-2 punch from there includes casting a jig/minnow combo (1/8oz), jig/plastic combo(1/4oz Mister Twister Sassy Swimmer) or twitching stickbaits (Smithwick Rogues). We are starting our traditional adventure at midnight with trolling, then transitioning to those casting locations during the day. Also worth mentioning is pitching a lipless crankbait such as a Booyah One Knocker or ripping a hair jig with a rip/pause/lift/slow drop retrieve.
Panfish continue roaming shallow weed flats, channels, bays and areas near pencil reeds in 3-13ft near the surface. This past week they remained in deeper water (12-16ft), but will be moving shallower with warming trends. Target crappies 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 on the edges of weeds, bays, channels and near the warmest water in the bodies of water we fished. 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 30-50lb braided line. There are several rigs (20lb mono) and ways to catch catfish with a weight (1oz) 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 ½oz 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 water temperatures change.

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!!