Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Fluctuating water levels affecting state anglers

Staff Writer

International Falls, Minn. Last year at this time, Rainy Lake
along the Canadian border was approximately 4 feet below its normal
water level. In many locations, low water made it tough to launch a
boat, and even more difficult to fish.

Thanks to a wet spring and more runoff from last winter’s snow,
anglers on Rainy Lake have yet to encounter any boating problems
this season. As water levels return to “normal” status, so has the
fishing action.

“We’re happy about it because it (water level fluctuations) does
affect the fishing up here,” said Bruce Sandbeck of the Loon’s Nest
on Rainy Lake. “Even the Rainy River has calmed down after a strong
spring current.”

While the added moisture is a bonus on many northern fisheries,
including Lake of the Woods, it’s caused problems in other areas.
The primary reason is that too much rain fell in a short amount of
time during the past several weeks.

The Mississippi River near Monticello started to recede last
week, returning to normal levels for this time of year. According
to Greg Shuman, of Shuman’s Outdoor Sports, the Mississippi dropped
3 feet since the weekend.

“It was tough to fish when it was so high, but it’s really
become more accessible this week,” he said. “The fishing is simply
better because people can get around a lot easier.”

While rocks are being seen on top of the water for the first
time this spring, Shuman said anglers can still navigate this
stretch of the river with a boat.

Apparently, much of that water has made its way south, into the
Red Wing area where the Mississippi crested 9 feet above normal
levels on June 18. Currently, it’s about 6 feet high and dropping
daily.

The fluctuating water level has meant that anglers have changed
their fishing locations throughout the spring near Red Wing.
Walleyes continue to bite at a good pace, but anglers have spent
more time farther downriver than usual, due to the high water
table.

Jeff Mead, of the Bobber Shop in Mankato, said the three primary
rivers, (Minnesota, Blue Earth, and LeSueur) are as high as they’ve
been since 1993 when flood conditions last hit this region.

Catfish anglers eager to hit these fisheries will to have to
wait a while longer due to the high water levels. According to
Mead, the lakes in this area also rose drastically as record rains
punished the Mankato area during a 10-day period.

“We got pounded with rain in this area,” Mead said. “We had
definite flood conditions earlier this spring, and it really
muddies up the water.”

Water levels have just now started to drop. The backwaters of
the rivers have started to see a few catfish anglers, and if the
rain stays away for another week, expect other stretches of the
rivers to start being worked over as well.

Reports along the St. Croix River indicate slightly higher water
levels at the present time. They, too, are receding quickly and
it’s had little effect on the angling activity.

Near Faribault, which received more than 12 inches of rain
during a nine-day period in May, the added precipitation actually
has helped return lake levels to where they should be. After two
years of very limited rains, most fisheries in this region needed
to be filled again.

“Right now, fishing conditions are perfect,” said Brent Lake, of
Faribault Bait and Tackle. “If we wouldn’t have received the rain,
it would have been a bad summer for fishing, because a lot of areas
wouldn’t have been accessible.”

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