There's never been a better time for spring fishing in Minnesota, so grab your favorite rod and reel and hit the water! Here are the places you won't want to miss.
Early in the month you'll probably be fishing on the ice on this Martin County lake. Amber is the first and deepest lake in the Fairmont Chain comprised of this water body, Hall, Budd, Sisseton and George lakes. All are natural impoundments of Center Creek in the Blue Earth River Watershed.
Amber has had great crappie production in late years, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' fisheries sampling proves that out. This should be another good year, with good-sized fish too.
Part of the beauty (and unknown) of fishing southern Minnesota in March is that you never quite know when you'll be fishing on hard water or the real thing. Most years, there's a decent chance that, by the end of the month, you can be fishing open water. Either way, hungry crappies should keep you busy.
Fish should be running consistently in the 8- to 10-inch range in this fertile lake, with bigger ones a possibility.
Here's another ice or open-water play for you, depending on what the climate conditions offer up this late winter and early spring. No matter, as Winnibigoshish perch are going to be staging for their annual spawning run back into weedy bays. The fish start gathering at the lips of these bays in late March under the ice, and they steadily move back as the ice fades.
Keep it simple. Fish with a short ice rod or even just a jigging stick in 6 to 8 feet of water. Bait up with a small minnow, live or dead, and don't be afraid to use just a half-minnow when you start. The fish won't care!
Big Stone Lake
Tired of fighting opening-day crowds on the big, famous walleye lakes in central and northern Minnesota?
One of the best solutions is to head west to Big Stone Lake in Big Stone County, right on the South Dakota border. Quite simply, the shallower and more fertile water there warms quicker and has the fish feeding harder. Plus, the border-water season opens in mid-April so the crowds are absent. They probably go to central or northern Minnesota!
Big Stone is a narrow lake, measuring 27 miles long and up to one mile wide, with a surface area of 12,610 acres. That figure may seem daunting, but the maximum depth of 16 feet makes it easier to handle.
Big Stone provides a high-quality walleye fishery. The walleye population has been maintained by natural reproduction and by supplemental stocking of fry. Every year seems to produce a good class of walleyes joining the mix, and so nice-sized fish keep coming. The prime 16- to 19-inch keepers are quite abundant.
Fish like you would any other allow prairie lake: Drift with spinner rigs baited with nightcrawlers or shiners, or troll crankbaits along breaklines.
Don't forget to share your best fishing photos with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!
Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.
Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.