Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Cool temps hinder stocking, spawning

Associate Editor

Fergus Falls, Minn. The spring of 2002 could historically be one
of the coolest on record. Don’t think the fish haven’t noticed.

A May that will rank in the top 10 coldest and a March-May
period, which also could be in the top 10, have delayed walleye fry
stocking and could make for mostly pre-spawn bass when the season
opens Saturday. Cool conditions also have caused a “shiner
shortage” across most of the state.

“There’s been a ripple effect, all the way from the fish to the
bait,” said Dean Beck, DNR Fisheries supervisor in Glenwood.

Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist for the DNR, said by
using the National Weather Service’s extended forecast, and then
plugging in the average temps for the final days of May, the
average Twin Cities temperature will be 53.1 degrees F, which would
tie the month with May of 1954.

For the spring season from March through May, Boulay said Twin
Cities temps are similar to those of 1996, at about 41 degrees.

Fry stocking continues

Both Beck and Arlin Schalekamp, Fisheries supervisor in Fergus
Falls, said Monday that walleye fry stocking should wrap up this
week, at least a week behind schedule.

Most noticeable has been the delay in the walleye egg hatch at
DNR hatchery facilities.

“Some of our eggs were in the jars four weeks, and that’s quite
long,” Schalekamp said. During a “normal” year, it takes walleye
eggs about 12 to 15 days to hatch at the Walker Lake Hatchery.

This year’s hatching delay may have increased the likelihood the
small walleyes survive, officials say. Cold water in the lakes has
slowed the development of zooplankton, tiny aquatic creatures that
feed on algae.

Schalekamp said the cold spring delayed most activity in the
state’s water bodies, including the natural spawning and hatching
activity of walleyes.

On Tuesday, Beck said water temps in the area had “finally hit
the 50s.” At the Glenwood area hatchery, stocked fry that normally
took 10 days to hatch were taking 12 to 15 days.

Officials advise bass C&R

When the bass season opens on Saturday, May 25, officials are
suggesting bass anglers consider catch and release. The cold spring
has delayed bass spawning. Many fish caught could be aggressive
pre-spawners.

“The spawn is going to be late this year for bass,” Schalekamp
said. Bass typically prefer water temps in the mid-60s for spawning
and early this week, those temperatures hadn’t been attained in the
Fergus Falls area.

Cool nights, he said, have negated some days of sunshine and
moderate temps.

“The fish are kind of confused,” Beck said.

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