Angler woes: First a late ice-out, now a bait shortage

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2013 - 12:23 AM

Ice on lakes has prevented minnow trapping, and the leech situation is also bad. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” a wholesaler said.

hide

Minnows, such as these fatheads, and leeches could be in short supply early in Minnesota’s fishing season because of the late warmup this year.

Minnesota anglers just can’t win: First they had to deal with lakes covered with ice on the fishing opener. Now the cold spring means a live bait shortage, too.

“You can’t trap minnows with ice on the lakes,’’ said Phil Koep, owner of Urbank Live Bait in Clitherall, Minn., a major bait wholesaler that serves 75 bait shops across northern Minnesota.

He has gotten some fathead, crappie and sucker minnows, but no spottail shiners — a favorite of many anglers who fish northern Minnesota waters. Lakes Winnibigoshish, Mille Lacs and Red — major suppliers of shiner minnows — all were ice-covered last week, as were smaller lakes that also are tapped for the precious minnow.

And anglers who prefer leeches are mostly out of luck, too. The ponds and lakes where they normally are harvested also have been ice-covered.

“I’ve got no leeches,’’ said Ron Meuwissen, owner of Ken’s Bait in Chaska, a wholesaler who serves about 100 bait shops within 100 miles of the Twin Cities. “Last year I had 3,000 to 4,000 pounds by April 1.’’

Many of his leeches come from the White Earth and Red Lake Indian reservations, where lakes remain ice-covered .

Both Meuwissen and Koep expected to get some leeches soon, and they hope the minnow harvest picks up, but they said the live bait shortage likely will last at least several weeks, until ice disappears and waters warm.

Both said the situation is rare.

“I’ve been doing this for 38 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,’’ Koep said. “My sales will be down 50 percent.’’

Said Meuwissen: “Once the opener comes and goes, that business is gone. You don’t make it up.’’

Shiner minnow shortage?

Besides weather, the discovery last year of zebra mussels in Lake Winnibigoshish also will reduce the availability of shiner minnows this season, said Ben Kellin, owner of Ben’s Bait in Grand Rapids.

That’s because the Department of Natural Resources is closing the lake to minnow harvest on May 22 — the average date that Winnie water temperature hits 55 degrees, which triggers zebra mussel reproduction. The invasive mussels produce microscopic larvae called veligers, which suspend in the water.

“We want to reduce the risk of spreading zebra mussels to other waters via bait transfers,’’ said Chris Kavanaugh, DNR area fisheries manager in Grand Rapids.

But shiner minnows spawn in shallow water — when they can most easily be caught — when water temperature is about 60 degrees.

That means few shiners will be caught in Winnibigoshish this year.

“Winnie’s shiner is the smallest, nicest-jigging minnow,’’ Kellin said. “That’s what the real uproar is among true anglers here. They will miss that beautiful little minnow.’’

Kellin estimated Winnie shiners are worth about $1 million. He said the DNR should close the lake to minnow harvest when the water temperature hits 55 degrees.

  • 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

Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - C. Morton
Toronto - D. Hutchison 6:05 PM
Baltimore - U. Jimenez
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
NY Yankees - M. Pineda 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cincinnati - J. Cueto 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Houston - N. Tropeano
Detroit - R. Porcello 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 7:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
Los Angeles - D. Haren 7:40 PM
Colorado - T. Matzek
San Francisco - J. Peavy 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Seattle - R. Elias 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Texas - N. Tepesch 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 9:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 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