Go fishing now during the best angling month of the year

The late Gary Clancy, a popular Outdoor News writer who passed nearly two years ago, once wrote a column entitled simply “June.” If memory serves, we printed the piece around Memorial Day, and his premise was straightforward and arguably obvious: Don’t let June sneak past without going fishing.

Jameson Drieslein caught this walleye while fishing with his grandpa and brother on the Mississippi River over Memorial Day Weekend. (Photo by Rob Drieslein)

I remember appreciating the sensibility of Clancy’s thesis because far too many people, myself included, skip this prime time for fishing because they figure they’ll wet a line later in the summer. That’s fine. Go fishing the entire open-water season, and if you follow the advice of fine anglers like “Tackle” Terry Tuma, you’ll catch fish. But an outing with my boys last week reminded me just how much silly fun you can find fishing during these unofficial opening days of summer.

A multitude of reasons contribute to a great bite in June: long days spurring vigorous growth in vegetation and oxygen levels, shallow fish, rising water temperatures, post-spawn hunger, and above all, low forage.

Along with their grandpa, two of my sons and I enjoyed a great day of fishing Pool 5A of the Mississippi River on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. We found a mess of walleyes that wanted meat, nothing else, no matter how hard I tried to rotate in enticing artificials.

Alec Drieslein with a freshwater drum that he released after catching it in the river near Winona. (Photo by Rob Drieslein)

We worked basic crawler harnesses and jig-and-crawler setups and enjoyed steady action during a warm morning. Normally I expect a mixed bag on the river, and middle boy, Alec, caught a 4- or 5-pound freshwater drum. But mostly we sorted through small walleyes stealing our worms.

Dick “Griz’’ Grzywinski once told me your jig is a live-bait delivery tool, nothing more. Play with color, but focus on defaulting to the smallest jig possible. Bring the bait and get out of the way! So that’s what we did. I changed color a couple of times, but bites were pretty consistent whatever we dropped.

We found walleyes in an area of light current between a couple of shallow beds of wild celery. Employing a basic lift-and-drop technique after casting out our lure and bait, we saw fish hit aggressively. Sometimes in such situations you’re contending with small sunfish stealing your bait, but all we complained about were small walleyes.

A couple hours in, I insisted we switch to half crawlers to preserve bait, but we still burned through four dozen worms in about four hours of fishing. We debated buying more worms, but with seven keeper walleyes in the boat for a family fish fry, we decided to call the morning a success.

Bob Drieslein of Houston, Minn., with an 18-inch walleye he caught on the Mississippi River on June 7.

Running out of bait while fishing – always a good problem to have! Next time, I’ll bring a few stinger hooks to attach to my jigs, for no other reason than to get some more mileage out of our crawlers.

On top of weather and water temperature, water levels fluctuate dramatically on the Mississippi compared to your average Minnesota lake. Steady siltation also can alter backwater structure from year to year, even in months or weeks, so who knows if that same spot will produce a year from now. If not, that’s the fun of the Mississippi – finding new fishing locations in an ever-changing ecosystem.

The Outdoor News Fishing Report contains news of great angling all across the region. Get out and enjoy some great fishing right now.

Categories: Blog Content, Fishing, Rob Drieslein, Walleye

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