Minnesota’s Fishing Opener 2021: How To Win The Weekend

Are you ready for the fishing opener this weekend? Are the rods prepped? Tackle organized? And did you text your fishing buddies? If not, you better get on it, the Minnesota opener is May 15th, and to some, it’s more exciting than Christmas!

This Minnesota Fishing Opener, also known as the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener, started back in 1948 to increase interest in recreational fishing, which helped drive the economies in the quaint fishing towns that Minnesotans flock to each summer.  

Like in baseball, when a special guest is invited to throw the game’s ceremonial “first pitch.” Every Spring in Minnesota, the acting Governor throws out a “first cast” to kick off the fishing season. This gubernatorial (fancy word for Governor stuff) event changes locations each season, giving different communities the excitement of hosting. Now that you know more about this weekend’s fishing opener let’s learn more about how you can actually catch some fish. 

Two Local Hammers

We spoke with Tyler Brick of Brick Fishing and Chad Smith, two hardcore anglers who spend most of their free time chasing fish. Tyler is a multi-species guy who is constantly changing techniques to stay on top of the hottest bite. Chad is a tournament angler who travels the country like a fishing gypsy, entering high stakes bass fishing competitions.

Here are the weekend plans from two local guys, along with a few situational tips that should help everyone have a successful opener. Remember to get a fishing license, be safe, and then fish until you can’t fish anymore—have a great opening weekend from everybody at the Catch Co.

Angler: Tyler Brick

Hometown: Chanhassen 
Home Waters: Minnetonka
Favorite Lake:
Horseshoe Chain

How do you prepare for the Minnesota fishing opener?
I really try to make sure all of my rods have brand new line and extremely sharp hooks. I get picky with how my plastics look, so I find myself double or even triple-checking to make sure they look perfect. I really use the day before the opener to my advantage by boating around and checking water temps, graphing, and looking for fish up shallow. Taking all of that information and making a game plan the night before helps me be more efficient when fighting the crowds on opening day. Instead of looking for new fish I am taking less time boating to spots where I know are currently holding fish! 

How do you decide where to fish and target species?
I base a lot of where I fish off of water temps this time of year. As the sun gets higher and the water temps rise, the walleyes normally start to transition deeper. The prime time – dawn/dusk bites are always best because they come up onto flats and shallow structure to eat. During that mid-morning time, I like to switch it up to bass. As the sun gets higher, it becomes a lot easier to see up shallow and target specific fish.

What are your plans for this weekend?
My plans for this weekend are similar to previous years. I will be at my cabin ready to throw a line in at midnight. The walleyes should be hungry! Being the first at bat at some of these fish is extremely important especially on weekends like this. As soon as the sun comes up the lakes get pretty crowded! I’ll most likely fish walleyes throughout the first day and then transition to bass. On my particular lake both largemouth and smallmouth have been on beds for quite some time. I’ll be spending the remainder of my weekend in my kayak creeping around the shallows with my sunglasses on, ready to toss a big one, a wacky worm.

What are you looking for opening weekend?
Bass: For bass, especially with the varying colder water temps, most fish are pushed up shallow. Keep your presentation light like a weightless Senko or wacky worm, and make sure to get the bait as close as you can to the shore as possible. 

Walleye: For walleyes, many of them have already spawned, but I’ve been seeing a trend of the majority of them staying in or near their habitual spawning grounds. Shallow rocks or channels with heavier currents seem to be holding a lot of fish. You can never go wrong with a Slip bobber or a jig and a minnow. If you can get your hands on bigger minnows like shiners or even larger fatheads, the fish will be hungry, and it’ll be the first baits they have seen since February!

Musky: Unfortunately, muskies won’t open for a couple of weeks yet, but while you’re trolling around pitching for bass, keep an eye out. You can find muskies lurking near panfish or even bass beds waiting for an easy meal a lot of days. Muskies are territorial, so if you see them in a particular area, it’s a safe bet they won’t be far come opener!

Follow Tyler on Instagram

Angler: Chad Smith

Hometown: Minnetonka, MN
Home Waters: Lake Minnetonka

How do you prepare for the season opener?
The biggest thing for me, prepping-wise, is just making sure I’m organized, loading the boat or tackle bag with everything I may need for the Minnesota opener. It’s early season, and the spawn is close it going on, so I’ll probably focus on shallow water.

What’s the best part about bass fishing in Minnesota?
If I’m honest, compared to down south, I feel like the fish up north, especially in Minnesota, aren’t as pressured and don’t see as much. We have something very special, and along with the season, these fish are protected and well sought after.

If you had to choose, would you pick largemouth or smallmouth for the season opener?
I’m a sucker for smallmouth, but to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve been home on Lake Minnetonka for the opener. There are both largemouth and smallmouth in there, and I always love to target the smallmouth, but this year I will be probably targeting largemouth mainly. 

What tips do you have for bank anglers fishing this weekend’s opener?
Fishing the bank this time of the year might not get any better! Honestly, sometimes I’d almost prefer it where I grew up on Lake Minnetonka. You can throw a swim jig and a wacky rigged BioSpawn Exostick around and get bit anywhere.

What bass baits would you have rigged up for the opener in the three scenarios below?

River Systems – I love fishing river systems: a Texas rigged BioSpawn Vile Craw, a topwater popper, and a Z-Man Chatterbait. This time of year, the smallmouth are close to spawning and the largemouth are prespawn. Covering water around any grass, you can run for largemouth and fishing hard bank as close to the main current as you can for smallmouth.

Stained Shallow Lakes- A jig, Chatterbait, and frog. The fish are going to be shallow. I like having the top water option to cast around shallow cover because the gosh will be shallow. Otherwise, you can never go wrong with a jig in your hand and covering water with something that’s going to vibrate and create some noise. A squarebill isn’t a bad choice either.

Deep Clear Lakes- I’d throw a drop shot, wacky rigged BioSpawn Exostick, and a Texas rig. I am covering any shallow cover with a wacky rig or Texas rig. I love trying to target the prespawn fish outside of spawning areas with a dropshot, fishing with a slower presentation can get you a few extra bites with all the pressure on the water with a fishing opener in MN.

Follow Chad on Instagram

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