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SPRING
The location of spring walleyes in Brainerd, Minnesota depends largely on the "ice out". On years when the ice leaves the lakes late, the walleyes may still be relating to the spawning areas. The walleyes spawn in any shallow location that contains current and gravel. The current can be caused by a river, creek, or even wave action of predominate winds. Current continually washes the gravel and insures the walleye's eggs will not silt over. On years when I suspect the walleyes are still relating to spawning areas, I like to fish walleyes in these situations with a small Northland lipstick jig. I prefer using colors like chartreuse and green, in sizes 1/8 oz to 1/4 oz. I usually tip the jig with a shiner minnow. I'll pitch the jig into a likely spawning area, let the it settle on the bottom, then slowly drag it back in. Don't work it fast. The water's still cold during these types of Minnesota springs and walleyes won't be able to move very fast under these conditions. Fish slow, but don't fish hours in the same location. Years of working as a Brainerd walleye fishing guide have taught me one thing, either the walleyes are thick in these locations or they're gone. Walleyes need rocks to spawn, but they sure don't eat them! The next locations to check are the sandy, slow tapered, breaks that have cabbage weeds. The closer these locations are to known walleye spawning areas, the better. These types of spots are usually the cabbage beds are typically the location of the first good walleye bite each spring in the Brainerd Lakes area. The typical fishing depths range from 12 to 18 feet of water. But on some of the clearer lakes in the Brainerd area, this might be as deep as 24 feet. The sun's rays can reach deeper, and allow weeds to grow deeper, on these types of lakes. Wherever the weeds stop, that's where most of the walleyes will be during this time of year. My favorite technique for fishing walleyes in these situations is live bait rigging. My favorite bait in May is a small spot-tail shiner. I like to hook the shiners lightly through the chin and then out through one of the nostrils with a #4 hook. These delicate baits will last longer and swim livelier when hook in this manner. A 1/4 oz walking sinker with a 30 inch Snell has accounted for many limits of May walleyes in my boat. Northland tackle makes a nice combination that's already tied up for you.

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LATE SPRING
The month of May is always exciting time for me. It's the first opportunity to get back in the boat after all those months of hard water. Nobody realizes the excitement a Brainerd walleye fishing guide feels when he finally gets back on the water after 5 to 6 months. The thought of night trolling for walleyes makes me restless each spring. I lose many nights of sleep during those first few weeks of the walleye season. Even after working as a fishing guide all day, I still find myself taking my kids or friends out to do a little walleye trolling in the evenings, knowing full well that I'll be moving a little slower the next day. Brainerd, Minnesota has many excellent night trolling opportunities for walleyes. The best lakes in the area are Gull, Pelican, North Long, and Round. Look for the same slow sloping areas with the sand or pea-rock bottom. New cabbage growth is a plus. The only difference is, that at night, the walleyes will be shallower. I like to start in 6 feet of water each night. If that doesn't work. Go shallower! There have been many evenings that I have trolled with the motor tilted up in less than 3 feet of water. Make sure that you let out at least 100-150 feet of line when you're trolling. When a boat passes over walleyes in shallow water, the fish will spook out to the sides. You must have enough line out so that the fish have time to return to their previous location before the bait moves through. My favorite baits are number 13 to 18 floating Rapalas in blue/silver, black/gold, and fire tiger. Make sure that you allow the lure to fall back 4-5 feet and then pull it forward from time to time. As you pull the rod forward, you will feel the vibration of the plug running true. When you pull forward and don't feel the plug vibrate, the bait has entangled itself in weeds. Nothing is worse than sitting in a boat for and hour without a bite because your lure wasn't running true! My favorite rod for pulling raps is a St. Croix 7 foot medium light bait caster spooled with 10 lb test Trilene XT.

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EARLY SUMMER
This is the first time since the previous summer that the sun's rays have heated the lake's temperature past 70 degrees. The arrival of this warmer water is the signal that the best bite of the summer is about to take place. The stress of the spawn is over and the abundant insect life has concentrated the baitfish in shallows. The warmer water has also kicked the walleye's metabolism into a higher gear. A walleyes is a cold blooded animal. The warmer the water, the more it must eat in order to maintain it's body's present level of activity. The stage is set for the first big feeding binge of the summer. The key locations will be the points and inside corners of large cabbage beds. This is not the time to be searching sunken islands or other mid-lake structures. The best cabbage beds will be located on the first break line connected to shore.  A big cabbage bed is like buffet table for a pack of hungry walleyes. A large school will "spill" out of the weed edge and relate to the sandy areas adjacent to the weeds. These walleyes will stick out like sore thumbs when seen on electronics. A big healthy leech and Roach Rig are a deadly combination for this situation. I like to use a 3 to 4 foot Snell, a #4 red hook, and a 1/4 oz sinker for this presentation. Don't be afraid to let a little line out when fishing this rig. When something stops the rig, gently pull up on the rod and give some resistance. If the line doesn't tug back, then the sinker's stuck on a weed or rock. Pop the rig free and keep fishing. A real fish will be animated and give several good tugs before running the line out. When the fish runs, let the line go. Give the fish a second or two to swallow the bait and then close the bail. Slowly reel up the slack line until the weight of the fish bends the rod. Set the hook with a smooth upward swing of the rod. Hey, who's got the net?!!!

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SUMMER
The summer period presents a unique problem for walleye anglers. The higher water temperatures force walleyes to feed more. But by this time, the lake's food chain has already expanded to it's largest size. The lake is literally filled with bait. A hungry school of walleyes doesn't have to expert much energy or time in order to satisfy their appetites. These conditions require anglers to do more than just locate a school of fish. The walleyes must also be feeding. The smaller window of opportunity forces anglers to fish faster. More schools must be located in order to find fish that are feeding.  To be successful at this time, anglers must be familiar with the lake that they're fishing and also be able to use of electronics. A good set of electronics is like a set of eyes for the angler. Electronics provide the angler with the opportunity to see what's underneath the boat's keel. Lowrance is my choice of products for this situation. By knowing what structures are in the lake, an angler can scour the break lines in search of fish. Don't make the mistake of fishing, just for the sake of fishing. A walleye school must be located before a line is dropped. Mid-lake structures are key elements during this period. Search the points and inside corners of deep water points and sunken islands. Don't try and find fish in the weeds. Hungry walleyes will move out of the weeds to feed. These are the walleyes that the angler wants to find. A creek chub on a Roach Rig is a great way of tempting these finicky walleyes. I like a 3 foot Snell length with a number #2 hook for this setup. Here's a tip: Hook the chub through the tail. It will struggle more when it's hooked this way. The extra action that a tail hooked chub provides is sometimes just what it takes to trip a summer walleye's trigger.

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LATE SUMMER
This is my favorite time of the year for catching walleyes in Brainerd, MN. The water is warm and Mr. walleye's metabolism is stuck in high gear. These conditions force a school of walleyes to feed multiple times during a single day. The best bite always occurs shallow, just right off the weeds. These schools of hungry walleyes are easy to spot on a depth finder. Don't waste your time fishing memories. In order to be successful during this time of year, you must see the fish on your depth finder. Let the wind be your guide in deciding which areas you should fish. Strong wind action will blow baitfish into concentrated areas. Hungry walleyes will search out these areas, and will feed aggressively. The best bait for this time of year is a 3 to 4 inch cheek chub. I like to fish this bait on a lindy rig with a 2 to 3 foot Snell. It's amazing how many walleyes can be stacked on the tip of a weed point during this time of year. When the baitfish are present, the walleyes will concentrate. Many times, the closer to the weeds you get, the better the fishing is. Don't be afraid to drift 2 to 3 feet into the edge of the weed bed during this time of year. This is a time of plenty, make sure that you practice selective harvest. Keep walleyes in the 14 to 16 inch range and let the rest go for seed. This will insure years of excellent fishing to come in the Brainerd Lakes area.

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FALL
This is the time of big fish. The air temperatures might be cooler, but the lake's water is still warm. The walleyes have feed aggressively throughout the summer and now the supply of forage is starting to dwindle. The higher metabolism, and the lack of food, forces the walleyes to stay on the feed for longer periods throughout the day. These conditions give the angler the opportunity to catch their biggest fish of the year. In Brainerd, MN. the walleyes will typically start to drop deeper during this part of the season. The perch that they've been feeding on all summer are now relating to very shallow water. Some walleyes will make nightly forages into the shallows each night, but that's a story that will have to wait until another time. The fish that I like to target in the fall are the walleyes that key on the deep water forage. Any lake in the Brainerd area that contain 60+ feet of water is sure to contain some form of deep water forage. These large schools of walleyes will relate to the steepest break during this time of year. Common depths are between 30 to 45 feet of water. Search out the biggest flat on the lake that quickly drops to deep water and it's likely to have walleyes relating to it during this time of year.

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