Fishing Big Stone Lake
by: Mike Frisch
Big Stone Lake on the Minnesota/South Dakota border is a very popular spring walleye fishing destination. Why? First, because the water is a border water, it opens to the legal taking of game fish like walleyes earlier than the traditional Minnesota inland game season. The season opens this year on April 23.
Second, the lake is full of walleyes of all sizes, so not only can early spring anglers scratch their early season fishing itch, but the odds of finding some cooperative walleyes is pretty good!
Opening day walleyes are often in the spawning mode so fishing shoreline rocks is a popular method as these fish pull up right tight to the shorelines at this time. When saying tight to shore, I mean landing your jig right at the spot where water meets rocks!
Artie Arndt from Artie’s Bait & Tackle grew up fishing Big Stone and is one of the “sticks to beat” in any Big Stone walleye fishing competition as he has an impressive resume’ when it comes to Big Stone tournament and walleye league events. “Landing that jig tight to shore is key during early season,” Arndt offered, when asked how to catch spring Big Stone walleyes. “If you land the jig a couple feet out from shore, you’re often too far from the fish,” he continued.
Small jigs tipped with small minnows is the key at this time of the year. The always popular 1/16-ounce Fire-Ball Jig tipped with a fathead get lots of play when pitching to shallow Big Stone walleyes. “Give me a few 1/16-ounce parakeet-colored Fire-Balls and a scoop of fatheads and I’m in business,” Arndt offered when asked about his bait preferences on opening day.
Most Big Stone experts like Arndt favor fishing mid-lake and north and tight to shore for early season Big Stone success. As the water warms, however, the bite gets better to the south along and around the lake’s islands and the fish head deeper as well. “By mid-May, and maybe earlier this year, I like to be fishing further south around the islands,” Arndt continued. “During low light or when the wind blows, I still get tight to the rocks, but during mid-day fishing deeper and even into the basin pulling spinners or crankbaits starts to produce big catches too,” he went on.
When Arndt refers to “the basin” he is talking about the 12- to 16-foot depths – some of Big Stone’s deepest waters – out from the shore. Big Stone had an unusually early ice out this year – March 15 – so Arndt feels that may be a wild card. “Typically that basin bite really goes mid-May, but who knows maybe we will see it in late April and early May this year,” he concluded.
Big Stone’s booming walleye fishery has been noticed by the competitive angling crowd too, as the always popular Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit makes another stop in Ortonville (the lake’s headwaters) on April 29-30. In addition to several local tournaments, the AIM Weekend Walleye Series is also holding a Big Stone event, May 22, this year.
Walleyes are the main Big Stone draw during spring and summer, but the lake also has a good population of big bluegills and crappies as well as an emerging largemouth bass population. During winter, Big Stone’s perch attract anglers from all across the Midwest.
To learn more about all things Big Stone, visit the Big Stone Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at www.bigstonelakechamber.com
Click here for a list of lodging options in the Big Stone Lake area.
The latest fishing report can be found on Artie’s Bait & Tackle on Facebook!
Link to DNR Fishing
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