Smith: Upper Red Lake was where action was

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 1, 2014 - 11:46 PM

So far, it’s been a fishing season to remember.

Or forget.

The wettest June on record dampened fishing activity around the state as anglers stayed home. At Lake Mille Lacs, fishing pressure in May was the second-lowest on record — next to last year. Of course, Mille Lacs has its own set of problems, including a tight slot limit, two-fish limit and a night fishing ban.

But fishing and boating activity on other Minnesota lakes also has been down this season.

Gary Barnard thinks he knows where the anglers were.

“On Red Lake,” said Barnard, the Department of Natural Resources area fisheries manager in Bemidji. “It was a hot bite, and the word spread. The landings were full.”

The DNR recorded 90,000 hours of fishing pressure in May on Upper Red — 60 percent more than usual, And anglers harvested a record 63,000 pounds of walleyes. As expected, pressure and harvest dropped in June: anglers kept 23,000 pounds. But the excellent fishing means anglers already have exceeded the walleye harvest target for 2014 of 168,000 pounds.

That’s because they harvested 119,000 pounds last winter, when the fishing also was gangbusters.

“We’re over the target now, but it’s not a hard cap,” Barnard said.

Why was the fishing so good?

“There were lots of fish in that harvestable size, and a very good bite, and with the late ice-out, the fish were still in the shallows. It’s easy pickings.”

The walleyes have dispersed now. “You can still catch some walleyes,” Barnard said.

On June 15, the protected slot, which had been 17 to 26 inches, was broadened to 20 to 26 inches, as scheduled. But the high harvest means the DNR might have to ratchet back harvest next winter. The protected slot last winter was 20 to 26 inches.

“That’s probably off the table this year,” Barnard said.

Meanwhile, things are not as heady on Mille Lacs, where anglers harvested only 2,700 pounds in May, a record low. Normal harvest would be between 15,000 and 70,000 pounds.

Catch rates are down, said Rick Bruesewitz, DNR area fisheries manager, because there’s a large amount of small perch for walleyes to eat.

Operation Dry Water

Another reflection that the state’s 2.3 million boaters have spent less time on the water this season, driven away by frequent rain, wind and high water, occurred last weekend. DNR conservation officers checked for intoxicated boaters under the national Operation Dry Water campaign.

  • 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

Houston 0 Bottom 7th Inning
NY Yankees 3
Cleveland 1 Bottom 6th Inning
Minnesota 3
Detroit 0 Top 7th Inning
Tampa Bay 1
Arizona - W. Miley 3:05 PM
Washington - G. Gonzalez
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 0 Suspended
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg
LA Angels - M. Shoemaker 6:10 PM
Boston - R. De La Rosa
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
San Diego - T. Ross 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Philadelphia
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
Indiana
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Minnesota
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