Rain is a real pain for state's anglers

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 18, 2014 - 12:48 AM

One of the wettest springs on record has inundated Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, ­causing some problems for anglers — and fish.

Angler access has been hindered in some areas, with docks and boat launches swamped. The problems have been especially bad on rivers, including the Mississippi and St. Croix.

And the high flows on those ­rivers rightfully can make boaters ­concerned.

“It’s keeping a lot of people away,’’ said Joel Stiras, Department of Natural Resources river specialist who worked on Pool 1 of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities recently. The water is so high and fast that some anglers might be wary to launch a boat.

“It’s rippin’,’’ Stiras said.

Conservation officers in the southeast said high water on the Mississippi has drastically reduced ­activity, and some landings remain under water near La Crescent.

Meanwhile, fish generally aren’t bothered by high water, but the fast-flowing rivers might hamper reproduction of some species, while helping others, Stiras said.

“For smallmouth bass, it’s not a good thing,’’ he said. “They typically do better when water is low.’’

Heavy currents make it difficult for them to nest, and can wash away newly hatched fry. On the other hand, studies show high water can be good for white bass and channel catfish, Stiras said.

As for northern lakes, walleye reproduction shouldn’t be affected by the high water, said Henry Drewes, DNR regional fisheries manager in Bemidji, where 4½ inches has fallen this month. Water temperature is a bigger factor for walleye reproduction, and the temperatures generally were good this spring, though they have since dropped in many areas.

“The walleye spawn and hatch should be good,’’ Drewes said.

Southeast trout streams got a big shot of water Monday night, when 2½ inches fell in parts of the southeast.

“The streams bumped up and got dirty in a hurry,’’ said Steve Klotz, DNR area fisheries manager in Lanesboro. “But it could have been worse.’’

That will make fishing difficult for anglers in the short term, but he doesn’t expect the higher flow to affect the fish reproduction or ­habitat. But more rain is forecast.

“We’re not out of it yet,’’ Klotz said.

Did you know?

As if the frequent rains haven’t been bad enough, the wet spring has hatched a bumper crop of bugs. Conservation officer Darin Fagerman of Grand Marais reports the mosquitoes are as bad as he’s seen.

“If you breathe through your mouth you can get enough to eat so you don’t have to stop for lunch,’’ he reported. “No repellent seems to work very long with these beasts. The bright sun doesn’t even seem to deter them.’’

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