Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Forecast bright for fishing opener 2001

Associate Editor

St. Paul A long winter, late spring, and low oxygen levels
during that long winter notwithstanding, Minnesota’s fishing opener
should turn out pretty darn good.

Weather permitting.

Minnesota DNR Fisheries personnel report the walleye spawn
should be complete and many of those large females should already
be looking for food in some of the state’s lakes. In others, they
may not be as aggressive, leaving angler offerings for males and
sub-adult females. And if the walleyes are not jumping into the
boat, crappie or northern pike fishing may be the ticket to an
action-packed weekend.

“It’s looking very good,” DNR Fisheries Director Ron Payer said
of the May 12 Minnesota opener. “Although we were seven to 10 days
behind, the temperatures seem to have caught up and the water has
warmed. We should have good fishing, especially in the shallow
waters and near lake inlets, except for some of the northern lakes
where the best fishing occurs a couple weeks after the opener.”

The 1990s featured a couple good year-classes of walleyes, Payer
said, so walleye numbers should be good across the state.

Winterkill may play some role in the availability of fish in
some parts of the state, especially in smaller, shallow lakes in
the southern reaches of Minnesota.

A check at area fisheries offices across the state indicated
conditions, as of Tuesday, varied at least to some degree.

“We finished our walleye spawn take several days ago,” said
Arlin Schalekamp, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Fergus Falls.
“If that’s any indication, spawning should be well-done by the
opener.”

He said winterkill was minimal in the area.

“I haven’t heard of much winterkill,” Schalekamp said. “It was
surprising. I anticipated more.”

On Tuesday, the DNR also reported that it had concluded its
spawn-taking on Cut Foot Sioux on May 5. The waterway, which had
been slated for a closure, will now be open to fishing on May 12,
the DNR reported.

As for other fishing opportunities, he said anglers could do
quite well crappie fishing and that “there are plenty of pike out
there.”

Pike also are plentiful in Glenwood-area lakes.

“We’re encouraging people to diversify,” said Dean Beck, the DNR
area manager there. “We would like to see more people harvesting
the small pike. They’re what’s causing problems as far as
optimizing walleye production.”

Recent years of high water have intensified northern pike
reproduction in the area, Beck said. This year likely will be no
different. Beck said water temps earlier this week were in the 51-
to 52-degree range.

“We still have some walleye spawning going on,” he said.

Most of that is in the deeper lakes with the cooler water lakes
such as Carlos, Ida, and Miltona.

“The big females may not be all that aggressive,” he said. “But
the males could be.”

Beck said high water has caused some shoreline erosion and
anglers should be on the lookout for debris in the open water.

Tim Brastrup, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Brainerd, said
water temps there are “fairly cool,” mostly in the lower 50s. He
expects the male walleyes and young females to be active in shallow
water over sandy areas.

Pelican Lake, where the Governor’s Fishing Opener will be held,
contains two very good year-classes of fish from 1995 and 1997.

“It could be very good out there,” Brastrup said. “The walleyes
were done spawning about a week ago and the fish should be
concentrated around rocky reefs and long sand bars.

In southern Minnesota, expect some winterkill in some of those
“honey holes” you previously had to yourself, said Marv Ingbritson,
DNR assistant area supervisor in Windom. However, surveys last year
indicated a couple southwest lakes Benton and Shaokatan are loaded
up with walleyes. Lake Shetek is another good option.

Want to stay in the metro area?

DNR fisheries manager Dave Zappetillo said walleye spawning
should be completed and the bite should be good. Crappie fishing
may be reaching its peak, should anglers want another option.

Chances are the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin will be
available for anglers to fish during the opener.

Jeff Pearson, owner of Four Seasons Bait Shop, said Tuesday that
the river would likely open to no-wake boating by May 9. Boating
without the no-wake requirements could be possible by May 12, but
anglers should check before launching.

Anglers with big crafts may have difficulty launching at some
marinas, and the water will be carrying much more than fish.

“Watch out for debris,” he said. “There have been reports of 60-
to 80-foot logs floating out there.”

Tribal harvest

On Lake Mille Lacs, catch rates in tribal nets had begun to drop
early this week, and the walleye spawn appeared to have peaked.

As of Sunday, May 6, members of eight Ojibwe bands had harvested
42,652 pounds of walleyes from the big lake. That total was about
5,000 pounds lower than the amount the bands had harvested as of
the same time last year, said DNR 1837 Treaty biologist Rick
Bruesewitz.

Of that total, the Mille Lacs Band had taken the largest amount
14,714 pounds. the Fond du Lac Band had taken the second-highest
amount 6,463 pounds only 608 pound below its quota.

The bands may harvest 85,000 pounds of walleyes during the 2001
netting year. All eight bands, two from Minnesota and six from
Wisconsin, had participated in tribal netting on Mille Lacs this
year, Bruesewitz said. In past years, the majority of the bands’
harvest has occurred during the spring spawn, though the Mille Lacs
Band also has harvested a few thousand pounds each fall.

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