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John Heroff of Stillwater tries his luck for walleyes, following the edge of a massive sheet of ice that still covered most of Lake Winnibigoshish on opening day Saturday. Fishing was slow, and anglers were buffetted all day Saturday by frigid winds gusting to 30 miles an hour.

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

Huddled against the cold while attempting to fool a few walleyes to eat for dinner, these anglers on a Lake Winnibigoshish launch owned by McArdle's Resort tried their luck on opening day Saturday, May 11. Fishing was tough.

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

Sybil Crevier fought off the bitter cold on Winnibigoshish Saturday morning by catching the only walleye seen there during the opener's first hours, a 26.5-inch beauty.

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

Brrrrrr: Minnesota fishing season opens

  • May 11, 2013 - 8:06 PM

Fishing season began Saturday in Minnesota, and in some cases involving significant determination, fishing began Saturday, too.

Anglers were greeted by temperatures far colder than just one day before, by a cold and gusty north wind and by ice still covering the largest Up North lakes. It’s believed no fishing opener since 1950 was so dramatically affected by weather, not so much the weather on opening day but that of the weeks previous.

Still, anglers found options in rivers and smaller bodies of water where ice had managed to become open water despite a winter that lingered long into spring.

Here are reports from around the state:

Alexandria area: According to Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle, anglers headed to lakes such as Mary, Stowes and Barret for walleyes and crappies. Walleyes were biting on shiners at 5-10 feet while crappies were hitting waxworms and panfish were hitting nightcrawlers. The Chain (Lake Le Homme Dieu, Carlos and Geneva), Chippewa Lake and Osakis were still mostly ice-covered.

Lake Minnetonka: Tim Sonenstahl, owner of Wayzata Bait and Tackle, noticed a little more boat traffic than usual as some anglers were staying closer to the metro area because of icy lakes in northern Minnesota. High winds forced anglers to focus on bays with less wind and warmer water. Walleyes were hitting jigs and minnows or Rapalas at about 3-10 feet before the wind kicked up. Crappies were being caught on the smaller bays at 3-6 feet with jigs and minnows. Northern pike action was slow.

Chisago City area: Brad Dusenka of Frankies Bait said that strong wind hampered the opener but that there was a strong walleye bite after midnight. Lake such as Green, South Lindstrom, South Center and Chisago were the best spots to catch walleyes, at 2-10 feet on shiners or big fathead minnows.

Mankato area: Tony Meixner of The Bobber Shop in Mankato reported a slow opener despite area lakes being free of ice. “It’s surprising how very few people went out on the lakes today because of the wind,” he said. Meixner said the Minnesota River has been producing walleyes and channel cats on jig-and-minnow or jig-and-twistertail setups. Fishing was fair on Lake Washington and Lake Hanska.

Baudette area: Steve Theis Jr. of Log Cabin Bait and Tackle said Lake of the Woods was largely ice-covered but “everybody’s fishing in the Rainy River or the lake bays.” He said anglers were going after walleyes using frozen shiners with a heavily weighted spinner to deal with the heavy river current, and a few big northerns were being caught with bobber setups.

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