By Dan Johnson

Last Saturday saw an epic walleye bite on the St. Louis River in the shadows of the twin ports of Duluth and Superior.

“People were catching fish from the Highway 23 Bridge down to Spirit Lake,” reports longtime guide Capt. Charlie Nelson.

On Sunday, however, a major cold front accompanied by cold rains rolled into the region and over the next few days dropped the water temperature a whopping 7 degrees—down to 51 degrees on Wednesday.

“It also dirtied up the river,” he adds. “Everything is stirred up.”

st louisNelson says the resulting tough conditions are making fishing tough, but not impossible.

“Yesterday I picked up a dozen walleyes, but I had to work at it,” he said. Still, with his marble-eyed catches running from 18 to 28 inches in length, I’d call that a decent trip almost anywhere in the Midwest.

To catch fish in the face of the post-frontal apocalypse, Nelson is patiently trolling Lindy Crawler Harnesses with size 5 Colorado blades upriver at 1.1 mph or less along channel edges.

“Some guys troll up and down the river, but I like pulling rigs upstream because I can slow down and work the spinner blade without moving too fast,” he says. Indeed, hovering a thumping blade and tantalizing nightcrawler in front of a walleye’s nose can trigger even the most inactive fish.

Nelson also adds Lindy’s Lil’ Guy to his trolling spreads. The revolutionary hybrid bait blends the best attributes of Lindy Rigging, crawler harnesses and crankbaits into one deadly package that trolls well from .3 up to 3 mph.

“Lindy Jigs tipped with minnows is another top tactic in current breaks and seams in 6 feet of water up by the Highway 23 Bridge,” he said.

Nelson notes that the DNR recently tagged 7,500 walleyes as part of a research project to help better manage the river’s world-class fishery, and that anyone who catches one should call the DNR to report it. This will help biologists protect the resource so we can enjoy great fishing for years to come.