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

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Wind and cold greet guv, state’s anglers

Staff Writer

Tower, Minn. Predictably, the weather was a main theme of last
Saturday’s fishing opener.

Too cold. Too windy. Too wet.

Yet for all the grumbling, the fishing across the state wasn’t
bad. From Lake Vermilion in the north site of this year’s annual
Governor’s Fishing Opener to rivers in the west, anglers who
withstood the weather barrage were rewarded.

Anglers looking for a pleasant Saturday on the lake were out of
luck. But for those whose opener was defined strictly by numbers of
walleyes, it was a success, according to reports from around the
state.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty was among the latter. Despite rain and
temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s, Pawlenty was all smiles
as he stood at Gruben’s Marina following five hours of fishing.

“I define how fishing is by how many you catch,” said Pawlenty,
who caught eight walleyes. His wife, Mary, fishing with guide Doug
Knoer in the same boat, caught five walleyes. Lt. Gov. Carol
Molnau, guided by Cliff Wagenbach, caught nine.

At Saturday’s shore lunch, and again at a banquet later that day
at Fortune Bay resort, fishermen talked of good success landing
walleyes from Vermilion. Some said their boats landed up to 30
walleyes; others boated a few right away, then headed to shore to
escape the cold and rain.

Pawlenty, who caught most of his fish in about 30 feet of water
on Lindy rigs and jigs tipped with minnows, caught mostly smaller
fish in the morning, but headed out again after lunch.

“We’re going back out there to try to find some bigger ones,” he
said.

Pawlenty didn’t catch another walleye. Like many anglers from
around the state, his catch consisted mostly of smaller fish.

Big-fish honors went to 8-year-old Frankie Tschida, of Eveleth,
a Boy Scout who landed a 39-inch muskie. The fish was released,
since the season doesn’t open until Saturday, June 4. Another
angler caught and released a 20.5-inch smallmouth bass.

Here’s a look at how anglers in other parts of the state
fared:

Duluth area

The walleye bite was steady, but mostly smaller fish were
caught, with the exception of one 9-pounder, said John Chalstrom of
Chalstrom’s Bait.

“Weather-wise, it was pretty nasty,” Chalstrom said. “But the
fishing was actually pretty good.”

Most fishermen used jigs tipped with either shiners or chubs,
and anchored the boat or drifted slowly.

“I talked to some guys who said they were fishing in 30 feet,
and other guys were getting them in shallow,” Chalstrom said.

Alexandria area

There wasn’t a hot bite around Alexandria, but some anglers did
find some bigger fish, according to Jay Seiling of Alexandria
Outfitters.

“You would call it pockets of success,” he said.

The cold, windy, and rainy weather kept anglers off popular
opening-day lakes such as Mary and Reno, and at 8 a.m. there still
hadn’t been a boat put in at one of the accesses on Lake
Minnewaska.

“It was the wind and rain combination that probably made it a
little tougher to stick out,” Seiling said.

Lake of the Woods area

Opening weekend turned out well, despite many anglers being
shore-bound Saturday morning.

“Opening day was cold and windy and a lot of people didn’t get
out,” said Deanna Painovich of Zippel Bay Resort.

The resort had a couple of charter boats out that got into some
calmer waters and found walleyes. By Sunday, clouds still filled
the sky, but the wind had died down. On that day, anglers found
fish scattered in water between 15 and 21 feet and did best
anchoring over them and jigging, Painovich said.

Fairmont area

The best fishing report Curt Larson of Master Sport and Bait
heard was from an angler who went out at 12:01 a.m. Saturday
morning, and had five walleyes 50 minutes later.

Despite high winds, there were many anglers on the water, Larson
said.

Eight inches of rain leading in the week leading to the opener,
combined with heavy wind, resulted in dirty water. Fishing likely
won’t pick up until the water clears up, Larson said.

Faribault area

The walleye fishing near Faribault was tough, but not because
the fish weren’t biting, said Brent Lake of Lake’s Bait and
Tackle.

“It’s not even that the fishing was that slow,” he said. “It was
so windy on Saturday that everybody got blown off the lake.”

Before the wind came up mid-morning, anglers enjoyed a good
shallow-water bite.

Most anglers were catching 15- to 18-inch fish, though Larson
saw one that measured 30.5 inches.

Lake Mille Lacs

On Lake Mille Lacs, getting out early might have been the best
bet. Dean Hanson, owner of Agate Bay Resort in Isle on the
southeast side of the lake, saw a 101?2-pound walleye caught in
front of his resort.

“People started out working the shallow rock piles after
midnight,” Hanson said. “As the wind has picked up out of the
northwest, they’ve been gathering up at the north end of the lake
around the sand.”

Tony Tideman, who works in the marina at Izatys Resort on the
south side of Mille Lacs, said the weather had slowed fishing.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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