Minnesota’s opening weekend of walleye and northern pike fishing drew big crowds to differing regions, but catch rates varied, state conservation officers said.
In a big surprise, the ice went out on Lake of the Woods at the last minute. DNR conservation officers Eric Benjamin and Jeremy Woinarowicz observed a mixed bag of results on the big lake.
“Some anglers had no problem limiting out while others struggled just to catch a few,’’ Benjamin reported.
Walleye fishing was slow on Mille Lacs, where the water was cold and ice lingered.
“Fishing seemed to be slow with a sluggish bite for most,’’ conservation officer Luke Croatt said.
The DNR released the comments Tuesday in its weekly report by conservation officers.
Three officers in the Brainerd Lakes area reported slow fishing, but the DNR’s Karl Hadrits of Crosby said area lakes and the Mississippi River attracted a “good many anglers who had good success.’’
Around Fergus Falls and Alexandria, the fish weren’t always as cooperative as the weather. Sunny skies and mild temperatures enticed lots of anglers to participate. Fishing reportedly was slow in the Fergus area, but conservation officer Mitch Lawler said lots of anglers around Alexandria enjoyed “rather good success.’’
Reports from Leech Lake and the surrounding area weren’t good.
“Fishing was pretty poor on the opener with colder water than usual,’’ said conservation officer Chelsey Best of Remer.
Same for International Falls, where officer Darrin Kittleson said most people on Rainy Lake found fishing slow. The Rainy River was muddy from rain, but previously was excellent for sturgeon.
Elsewhere Up North, some anglers who ventured into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area had to break ice. Along the North Shore, anglers were out in decent numbers for smelt and steelhead.
In the south, Winona area conservation officer Tom Hemker reported a quiet fishing weekend. But Worthington’s Andrew Dirks said it was busy despite poor weather. Matt Loftness of Marshall said boat numbers were down.