Dennis Anderson: Experts predict good things for fishing opener, if weather holds

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2012 - 2:38 AM

Five experts generally agree on what to expect next weekend.

hide

Mark Fisher, director of field promotions for Rapala, thinks with the early warm-up this year already, "it might even be a year for the record books, in terms of fish caught."

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

What will fishing be like when the walleye and northern pike seasons open Saturday? My bet: really good -- unless we're inundated with rain (or snow) and cold this week.

The five experts -- four of them guides -- whose opening-day predictions are detailed below generally agree. They are Spider Johnson from Upper Red Lake; Tony Roach from Mille Lacs; Mark Fisher from Rapala; Tom Neustrom and Jeff Sundin from the Winnie-Leech area; and Billy Dougherty from Rainy Lake.

Here are their outlooks:

Spider Johnson, Upper Red, 1-320-304-1617: "Walleyes will be where they are supposed to be, barring any unforeseen weather events between now and the opener. That means, on Upper Red, in four to eight feet of water.

"The early spring that much of the southern part of the state had won't have much effect on the placement of fish on the opener, I don't think. For one thing, there's a 30-day difference in the growing season between up here and in the south, and that plays a big role in water temperatures.

"If fishing on the opener and the days and weeks that follow occurs as I expect it will, it will be a continuation of the great winter fishing we had up here. This was by far the best winter I've had up here, although at times, nature threw a curve at us and it was hard to get onto the lake.

"Jig-and-a-minnow -- meaning a shiner -- is what I'll be using on opening day. I like the Northland Vegas jig. I'll start out with a one-eighth ounce. If I have to go a little heavier, I will."

Tony Roach, Mille Lacs, 763-226-6656: "I think the bite on Mille Lacs will be phenomenal this weekend. And unlike last spring, which was so cold, anglers this year will have lots of options in the places on the lake they can fish.

"If you don't want to, you won't have to be bunched in with the big flotillas.

"I would start not by fishing right away, but by using my graf and looking for fish first. I'd start shallow and work my way out to deeper water. Don't fish with the mindset that the fish will be in a particular place because that's where you caught them last year.

"The reason I think the bite will be so good is simple: From my perspective, this is the healthiest I've ever seen Mille Lacs. You can fish any give spot and catch anything from six- to eight-inch walleyes, all the way to 28-inch fish.

"Plus, the number of fish exceeding 28 inches, the real trophies, is increasing in the lake, I believe. In the last couple of years, a lot of those fish were 25 to 27 inches. Now, they're 28-plus.

"The key will be finding bait fish. Wherever you find them, you'll find walleyes. And because this year on Mille Lacs you'll be dealing with post-spawn fish, both male and female, you'll have options both on technique and location.

"I think on this opener you'll even find them on secondary break lines; the secondary structure where you might not find them on more typical openers."

Mark Fisher, Rapala director of field promotions: "My bet is that in general it will be a great opener.

"That could change somewhat, depending on the weather we have leading up to Saturday. That's been the case already: An early spring, particularly in the southern part of the state, turned out to be a not-so-early spring. Then things leveled off until recently, when we've had quite a bit of rain and it's been cool.

"You can see how that's affected fish, but look at what's happened with crappies this spring. Instead of a definite move into the shallows to feed, and then to spawn, they've been moving in and out. I've been crappie fishing a fair bit and this spring you really have to slow down to catch them.

"The thing is, this spring has been so unusual that I think it's setting up to make for some really spectacular catches on the opener. It might even be a year for the record books, in terms of fish caught. It's already been a year for the record books in terms of the weather we've had.

"As a result, fish, at least in the southern half of the state, are ahead of where they would be typically at this time of year, rather than lagging behind."

Tom Neustrom, Grand Rapids, 1-218-259-2628, and Jeff Sundin, Deer River, 1-218-246-2375: "The good news up here is that the shiners have started to run. The bait guys are just starting to trap them, so there shouldn't be any problems finding good bait for the opener. But the fact that the shiners are running will be good for fishermen, too.

"In more typical springs, shiners on the opener would be staging in eight to ten feet of water. In those years, it's sometimes not until later, a week or two after the opener, that they move into the shallows, and the walleyes move with them.

"This also should allow on the opener this year for people to find smaller pockets of walleyes, rather than hang out on in big flotillas. Also, there should be a bigger variety of lakes to fish that will provide good action this opener, rather than on more typical openers when it's the big walleye producers that provide the fish.

"But those big lakes, the big sand lakes, should be really good. Leech, Winnie, Upper Red. An eighth-ounce jig and a minnow should do it."

Billy Dougherty, Rainy Lake Houseboats, 1-800-554-9188: "The walleyes are still spawning here, and I look for it to be a pretty decent opener.

"The water temperature on Friday was 45 degrees in the rivers, and about 50 here at our docks. We're maybe a week a head of time on those temps.

"I've been on the lake quite a bit already, and the northern pike fishing has been unbelievable. The season here is open year-round on northerns, and we've really been having some fun with it. We've been taking them with Glidin' Raps, and they really hit them.

"When the walleye season opens, though, on Saturday, a jig and a minnow will work best. Based on what I'm seeing, the fish up here will be where they typically are on the opener: in the currents, where you can find them, or shallow."

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • COUNTDOWN


    The 2012 Minnesota fishing opener begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - D. Hutchison 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Tanaka
Washington - S. Strasburg 12:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
NY Mets - J. deGrom 12:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Boston - J. Kelly 12:35 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - N. Karns
Cleveland - C. Kluber 1:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Detroit - R. Porcello 1:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Seattle - H. Iwakuma 1:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Los Angeles - J. Wright 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 12:30 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 4:00 PM
Washington
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Columbus
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 2:00 PM
Toronto FC
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close