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

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

“Then it’s a moving target,’’ Kavanaugh said. “We feel more comfortable having a date that everyone knows.’’

He said the DNR is trying to identify other lakes with shiners that could fill the void.

Lake Mille Lacs, another major supplier of shiners, also closes May 22 to minnow harvesters because it, too, is infested with zebra mussels.

Freeze-out?

Another factor could spell trouble for minnow-loving anglers. The long, cold winter has killed off some shallow minnow ponds.

“We know a lot of them froze out, because we can drive around and see the dead minnows,’’ said Jeff Koep, cousin of Phil Koep, who owns Spruce Center Bait in Miltona, Minn., a wholesaler who serves 40 bait shops and resorts in the Alexandria area.

But until minnow trappers start trapping in earnest, no one will know the extent of the freeze-out and whether the loss of some ponds will result in a larger minnow shortage.

“I’m hoping it’s a temporary thing, otherwise it’s going to be a long summer,’’ Meuwissen said.

And it’s uncertain whether any of this will affect live bait prices. For now, prices are stable.

Meanwhile, just as anglers are an optimistic lot, so too are bait dealers.

“I think it will be a great summer, once it gets going,’’ said Jeff Koep. “The economy is a little better. People are buying boats. We know the business is there if we can get them the product.’’

 

Doug Smith • doug.smith@startribune.com

Twitter: @dougsmithstrib

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