Walleyes showed up for opening weekend on Upper Red Lake and Mille Lacs, but gusty winds and cold water temperatures flattened results in other popular basins, according to summaries provided by state conservation officers.
Fishing was so-so even on Lake of the Woods, where officer Eric Benjamin reported that most walleye chasers in the Warroad area came up short. Further east on the big lake and on the Rainy River, officer Jeremy Woinarowicz said success was very dependent on location and getting to your spot early in the morning.
Ice disappeared from Lake of the Woods just in time for the opener, Benjamin said. But there were reports along the North Shore that some inland lakes were still frozen.
“Numerous anglers were disappointed to find their destination lakes still mostly frozen, but with not enough to ice fish on,’’ officer Mary Manning reported from Hovland, about 16 miles south of Grand Portage.
Fishing license sales were off 6% from a year ago. Including sales booked throughout the weekend by the Department of Natural Resources, the number of fishing licenses of all kinds stood at more than 347,000 as of Monday.
The reports from Rainy Lake and lakes around Orr were mixed. Officer Darrin Kittelson in International Falls said lots of people in the region were enjoying time on the water, but that the walleye bite was better on Kabetogama than it was on Rainy Lake. Most people caught a few keepers on Kabetogama, he said. Anglers had to deal with strong winds.
On Lake Vermilion, walleye fishing took a step backward by producing what officer Duke Broughten described as “limited success,’’ During last year’s opening weekend on Vermilion, the fishing on the eastern portion of the lake was remarkably good.
Bemidji area conservation officer Brice Vollbrecht reported that river anglers did well catching walleyes — especially during the evenings.
To the west, officer Jake Swedberg said winds and cold water made it difficult to find walleyes in the Detroit Lakes region.
“A warm week of weather should lead to better fishing conditions in the area,’’ he wrote.
Officer Al Peterson of Osage described a “relatively slow’’ fishing opener while officer Bill Landmark of Pelican Rapids said winds made certain lakes “nearly unfishable.’’
Officer Troy Richards of Fergus Falls also reported a slow start to the walleye season. Action probably won’t pick up until the water temperatures spike upward, he said.
Northwest of Alexandria around Evansville, officer Shane Osborne observed several boats coming off area lakes with limits of walleyes.
At Cass Lake, the walleye bite was fair to good while the panfish bite was “very good,’’ officer Mark Mathy said. Mathy handled a number of complaints of anglers taking overlimits of crappies, he said.
In the Longville area, officer Jacqueline Hughes reported that fishing was slow no matter what species anglers were targeting.