Anderson: Overcoming ice and cold with hopes of better fishing openers to come

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2013 - 7:51 AM

Optimism was the only hope when the season opened Saturday. After a day on the lake, it still is.

– Whatever records might have been set this past long winter and never-ending spring were redoubled Saturday, on what was supposed to be the opening of the state’s fishing season.

Here on massive Winnibigoshish — Winnie — a sheet of ice inches and perhaps feet thick blanketed most of the lake. But along the shoreline that our group fished, hard by the lake’s Mississippi River outlet, gale-like winds pushed that sheet toward the middle of the lake and beyond, exposing water that overnight on Friday gathered itself into a sharp chop and, soon, whitecaps.

Into that breach early Saturday, our group of some 18 anglers guided a half-dozen or so craft. The hope was that a long day’s suffering in elements unfit even for a junkyard dog would be rewarded with live wells brimming with walleyes.

Or perch. Or crappies. Or, really, anything with fins we could filet and drop into a deep fryer come suppertime.

“The last time we opened the season here we all got limits,’’ Paul Kreutzfeldt recalled. “Maybe it’ll happen again.’’

Perhaps.

But no matter our catch, this opener would be different, we knew that from the get-go.

The lake ice, for example, would pose a problem, as would the cold front that enveloped the state Friday, bringing with it winds that gusted to 30 miles per hour.

To combat the latter, soon upon motoring onto Winnie, occupants in each boat of our small flotilla tossed drift socks overboard, hoping to slow the rate at which their craft were cast downwind, and to slow, especially, the rate at which their jigs and minnows were dragged across the lake’s bottom.

Our hope was that we would catch walleyes staging near shore, preparing to spawn. This was theoretical, of course, as is most thinking about fish and fishing, because no one in Minnesota in recent memory has attempted to catch walleyes across such a wide range of the state so early in their spring-summer cycle.

By rights, these fish should have spawned weeks ago, prompted in part by lengthening days. But in many regions of Minnesota, lake and river water has remained too cold for eggs to survive.

So, naturally, fish have postponed spawning, while they lurk in parts unknown.

Thus every angler’s question Saturday: Just where in a given lake or river might pre-spawn walleyes be?

Near shore?

In deeper water, waiting for lakes to entirely clear themselves of ice?

In rivers that serve as lake inlets and outlets?

We weren’t sure. But we thought that by positioning ourselves at Winnie’s outlet, where our host resort, McArdle’s, is located, we might catch the fish either in the river or not far out into the lake.

But even if we found the fish, it’s well known that walleyes and many other fish that are spawning, or preparing to spawn, don’t eat. Wildlife photographer Bill Marchel of Brainerd proved as much Friday night at midnight when he and three friends wade-fished a north-central Minnesota lake whose shallows were crowded with walleyes.

  • related content

  • Incredible ice jams attack Mille Lacs shoreline + video

    Saturday May 11, 2013

    Wind-whipped ice can't be stopped

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

    Sunday May 12, 2013

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

  • Fishing opener: Send us your Trophy Tales

    Wednesday May 8, 2013

  • Opening Day fishing report

    Sunday May 12, 2013

    Opening day fishing report

  • John Heroff of Stillwater tried 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 per hour.

  • Sybil Crevier fought off the cold on Winnibigoshish on Saturday morning by catching the only walleye seen there on opening day, a 25.5-inch beauty.

  • 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. Fishing was tough.

  • 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

Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 1 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 5
Cincinnati - WP: T. Cingrani 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: B. Cumpton 1
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 7
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 4
Minnesota - WP: R. Nolasco 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: E. Bedard 7
Arizona - WP: M. Bolsinger 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 2
San Diego - WP: A. Torres 4 FINAL
Washington - LP: C. Stammen 3
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 11 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Cecil 4
NY Yankees - WP: C. Sabathia 14 FINAL
Boston - LP: F. Doubront 5
Oakland 10 Bottom 8th Inning
Houston 1
Philadelphia 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Los Angeles 0
Indiana 85 FINAL
Atlanta 98
Oklahoma City 95 FINAL
Memphis 98
LA Clippers 24 2nd Qtr 9:59
Golden State 23
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Colorado 1 3rd Prd
Minnesota 2
San Jose 0 1st Prd 1:38
Los Angeles 1
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