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Opener not as good as some anglers had hoped

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH
  • Star Tribune
  • May 16, 2012 - 12:44 AM

The early ice-out this spring had Minnesota anglers thinking the fishing opener might resemble the hot bite often seen Memorial Day weekend, when water temperatures warm.

Generally, that wasn't the case.

"As far as water temperatures and fish activity, it was more like the middle of May," said Chris Kavanaugh, Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor in Grand Rapids.

While March was extremely warm, causing record ice-outs on many lakes, April was cool or cold. Water temperatures in Kavanaugh's area are in the mid-50s. By Memorial Day, it might be over 60 degrees.

Kavanaugh's assessment of the opener: "All things considered, it was kind of average. It was a typical opener."

At Lake Winnibigoshish, "some did really well, and others not so good," he said. "Bowstring was real good."

Reports from conservation officers around the state showed it was a mixed bag. High winds Sunday hampered anglers, especially on big lakes such as Upper Red and Lake of the Woods. Near Bemidji, "Many anglers took a limit of walleyes," reported officer Stacey Sharp. Farther west near Moorhead, few limits were seen.

Action was "outstanding" near Fergus Falls, and "spotty" near Tower. Near Grand Marais, "Fishing was slow with only a few walleyes in the live wells," reported officer Darin Fagerman.

At the Pine River area, officer Nikki Shoutz didn't encounter any anglers with limits of walleyes or northerns, but said most success occurred in the early morning on the Whitefish Chain. Near Crosby, those fishing the Mississippi River saw the best action.

Fishing was excellent in southern Minnesota, including the Worthington, Marshall, New Ulm, Jackson and St. Peter areas.

Leech Lake, part II

I reported Sunday about my group's struggles to catch walleyes on Leech Lake on the opener. We found better luck the next morning, catching a half-dozen walleyes -- enough for that obligatory fresh walleye shore lunch. Strong winds made for a wet and wild ride across Leech.

Did you know?

• The St. Croix River Association is holding an Asian carp public forum at 7 p.m. today (Wednesday) at the Water Street Inn in Stillwater.

• The third annual Chisago Lakes Lions Club Carp Fest is Saturday at Lions Park in Lindstrom. See www.chisagolakes chamber.com.

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

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