5 walleye-catching tips from a fishing guide for the Minnesota fishing opener

Jason Freed says you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn.
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The ice is out on most lakes and Saturday's fishing opener in Minnesota is going to be cold initially, but warming temps into the 60s and low 70s should eventually make it a perfect start to walleye season. 

Jason Freed, a fishing guide with Leisure Outdoor Adventures in Walker, believes this year's opener is going to be a good one for walleye anglers. 

"It's setting up to be that way," Freed says. "2013 is when we had the last late ice-out like this, we couldn't even get out on the lakes. That was a really good year."

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Freed will be fishing for walleye as the guide for Minnesota Vikings defensive players Eric Kendricks and Trae Waynes.

Here are some of the tips and tricks he plans to pull out of his tackle box. 

1. Fish in shallow water

"Fish should be pretty shallow," Freed said. "Gonna be beautiful weather and not a ton of wind. Fish will be shallow but high boat traffic could push them out a little deeper."

Freed doesn't plan to fish any deeper than 12-13 feet. 

He also doesn't think it's necessary to be out at the crack of dawn to catch walleye. 

"Peak times to catch walleye, throw early morning out the window because water temperatures rising is what gets fish moving," he said. "A little wind in the middle of the afternoon and that water warms up, that's when the fish will start to go."

2. Keep the boat moving less than 1 mph

You don't want your boat moving any faster than 0.6 to 0.9 mph. Freed says it's the perfect drifting speed if you're using a jig and minnow, which he suspects about 90 percent of people will be.

3. Be patient, fish the edge of the boats

"Just a matter of being patient and doing your due diligence," says Freed. "Opener is fun and you gotta make sure you're enjoying yourself. If you can, find a way to fish on the edge of the boats."

Freed says the masses of boats, especially in the morning, will push the fish out a little deeper (12-13 feet like he said earlier). 

4. Time of day affects type of bait you should use

"Jigs and minnows in the morning, slip bobber and a minnow in the evening," Freed recommends. 

At dark, switch over to crank bait and start trolling the shallow flats and shorelines, so long as there aren't a lot of boats around. You shouldn't use crank bait when the lake is busy with boats.  

A #5 shad rap is his go-to. 

5. Be active with your fishing rod

"Really good piece of advice is to pay attention to your cadence while you're jigging. Sometimes rip and snap it, other times just hold it near the bottom. Just mixing things up." 

If you have multiple people in the boat, make sure your jigs have different colors, Freed says. 

The perfect lake?

It's tough to beat Leech Lake. That's one of my go-to lakes," Freed said. "Cass Lake is a great lake, any of these big lakes. If you want to go catch fish, Lake Mille Lacs should be dynamite."

He added that Red Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish are also really good. 

If you're looking for less chaos, he recommends trying a smaller lake. 

"Just go out on some of these little lakes and it's going to be you and a couple of other boats. It's what I would do if I wasn't guiding." 

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