PAUL NELSON FISHING: Fishing season opener is almost here

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There are a lot of lakes with open water in the greater Bemidji area, with more lakes opening up daily. All of the local lakes should have open water by this weekend.

This leaves less than two weeks before the Minnesota walleye opener on Saturday, May 9.

There is not much time remaining to get all the docks in the water and for the bait stores to load up on bait before the season begins.

It is not clear if every dock on every lake will be in place before the season opens. Some government workers are not back on the job because of COVID-19 precautions, so be prepared to launch your boat without the aid of a dock.

Sorting tackle and getting rods ready is a task everybody can be working on while they wait. People that change line on their reels frequently can put a monofilament backing on their reels, so they don’t have to change all the line to get a fresh spool of line.


Anglers need to learn a knot to tie two pieces of line together, whether they are using mono or braided fishing line. YouTube is a good source for that type of information. A J knot is a good choice, but there are other knots that will also work.

Walleye anglers usually use 8 pound test mono for everyday use, and 6 pound test is a good choice for light jigs. Walleye anglers can also use 8 to 10 pound test braided line for the main line and 6 or 8 pound test fluorocarbon for leader line.

The general rule is you can get by with a heavier line on stained lakes, but lakes with very clear water may require lighter line if anglers are fishing for a fish species that are considered line sensitive.

Anglers fishing for crappies and sunfish usually can get by with 4 to 6 pound test line if they are using jigs. A bobber rig should have an 8 pound test on the main line and lighter line for the leader line.

Trout are another species of fish that are very line sensitive. Most anglers will use 4 pound test fluorocarbon line for stream trout in lakes. Larger trout like lake trout usually require 8 or 10 pound test mono with a larger spool of line on the reel to land a larger fish.

Anglers often use 6 or 8 pound test mono for smallmouth bass, while 10, 12 or 15 pound test mono is okay for largemouth bass in areas without a lot of snags. Many anglers use braided line for bass in 20 to 50 pound test line in heavy weeds or snaggy areas.

Anglers fishing for muskies often use 80 pound test braided line for most situations. Casting large lures puts a lot of stress on the line and muskies can give quite a battle if anglers don’t use heavy enough line to land them quickly and get them released fast.

Anglers boats need some attention too. The batteries can go dead during the winter, so they need to be checked and charged.


Anglers need to put fresh lower unit grease in their outboard motors at least once a year and it should be checked for leaking periodically during the summer.

New spark plugs should also be part of anglers spring routine to keep their outboard motor at peak performance and running smooth.

The propellers on every motor, both gas and electric also need to be checked for fishing line. You can ruin the seal on a motor very quickly if you pick up some fishing line out of the water.

Anglers sometimes get fishing line in their own motor from someone in their boats not paying attention while fishing. You can’t just cut the line and expect everything to be okay. The prop has to be removed and checked when you get to shore and before you go fishing again.

Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Guided trips for 2020 can be booked by calling or texting (218) 760-7751 or by email at

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