Fishing the Midwest

by Bob Jensen

I looked out the window this morning and sure enough, there was a blizzard going on just like the weather predictors had said there would. With today’s clothing and shelters, ice-fishing in the cold is no problem. But ice-fishing in the wind with driving snow is not for me today. I decided if I can’t go fishing in the present, I’ll look forward to fishing in the future. Here are some things I’m looking forward to in the coming open-water fishing season on Kabetogama Lake.

Kabetogama Lake in northern Minnesota is one of my favorite places to fish. The fishing is outstanding, but there are other reasons that I enjoy visiting Kab. One of those things is the wildlife. Whenever you go around a point, you could see a family of otters or a deer or a bear or a bald eagle or something else. That’s a part of fishing and being outside that I enjoy. However, the fishing almost always comes first.

In all my previous visits to Kabetogama we’ve focused on walleyes, and for good reason. The walleye fishing there is world-class, for eaters and for big ones. This past year my fishing partner Travis Carlson introduced me to the crappie fishing on Kab. On a tough day we caught quite a few, and they were big. Eleven inches didn’t get a second look. It was really, really good crappie fishing. And, on that trip I learned that Kabetogama has an under-fished population of over-sized smallmouth bass. I’m looking forward to chasing those smallmouth on Kabetogama this year.

I’m looking forward to expanding my use of plastic baits this year. Plastics have become more a part of my fishing and that of many others in recent years. Plastic is durable, it comes in lots of shapes and sizes and colors, you don’t need to worry about keeping it alive, and, in many situations, it’s more effective than live bait. Plastic on jigs can be absolutely the best choice in a lot of situations. Plastic baits are often thought of as mostly a tool for largemouth bass, but my fishing friends and I have been using it on jigs and spinner rigs for walleyes for a long time. The Mimic Minnow and Mimic Minnow Shad were especially effective last year when the walleyes were shallow and aggressive. You could fish’em fast and cover water, and that’s good when the fish are hungry.

I’m looking forward to even better fish-catching this year. Not as many fish were harvested through the ice this year in many areas due to the late arrival of ice. The various bodies of water should have more fish in them.
We should also look forward to better fish-catching simply because our knowledge of fishing continues to improve. The more we fish, the more we know about fishing.

And, the more we fish, the more we realize we don’t know it all. My fishing partners and I still have lots of times when we say to each other “I wonder where there fish are today?” or “We can see them on the sonar, why won’t they eat?” Most of us continue to fish because fishing is just a fun thing to do. We also fish because it’s almost always fun to try to figure out what it’s going to take to catch’em.

For now, I’m going to continue to watch the blizzard and think about the upcoming open-water fishing season. If it’s blizzarding at your house, or if it isn’t, you might want to look forward also, just for the fun of it.
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PHOTO CAPTION—Look forward to lots of fish catches when open water returns. Largemouth bass like this one that Mike Frisch caught in early summer are almost always willing biters.

Northland Fishing Tackle (


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