Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Early bass opener: A wrench in the plans?

I was thinking the other day about my opening weekend of fishing plans. Save for the year that ice remained on the opener, I’ve spent the past few openers trolling for rainbow trout on Bad Medicine Lake near Park Rapids.

In all likelihood, we’ll head there again this year. But that early catch-and-release bass season is tempting, too.

Bass fishermen for years have been asking for an early season that allows them to catch and release bass. They finally get their wish this year when, in the majority of the state, there’s a two-week catch-and-release season that opens May 9 with the walleye season. The harvest season begins May 23.

Given that many anglers fish only walleyes, and that the mid-May time period can offer some of the best fishing of the year for crappies, I’m unsure how many people will take advantage. My guess is the hardcore bass guys will be out in full force, but in all likelihood, not a whole lot will change for most fishermen.

Still, it’s a neat opportunity and I look forward to throwing jigs and other baits for bass before Memorial Day weekend. People who read bass-fishing magazines and follow tournament trails mostly have been left to wonder what it would be like to be able to target bass before they spawn. Sure, you can often find pre-spawn bass in northern waters during the early part of the season, but, for the most part, fish are either spawning or done spawning when the season’s opened in the past. The pre-spawn is one of the best times of the year to catch a true trophy.

I think a lot of fishermen are going to enjoy the opportunity to target bass early this year. I know I am. But first, hopefully I’ll catch a few trout for the table.

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