Reporting Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Tackling this year’s fishing opener on May 11 is going to be tricky.
From the bait anglers use, to the types of fish you’ll likely catch, the DNR said the unusual spring will cause major differences.
Kathleen Hansen of Bearz Sport has decreased her hours and her inventory this year.
“All of our spring order stuff would normally be up, but we waited this year,” Hansen said.
Normally up on the wall for sale by early March, Hansen just got her spring order on Wednesday. She said the bigger concern is now about bait. Leaches are stuck under the ice.
“I don’t think we’ll have them for opener,” she said.
Some fish species are also refusing to spawn until waters get warmer.
“Usually by this time we’ve started to see walleyes begin to spawn, and the Northern Pike would be done,” Manager of the DNR Central Region Fisheries Brad Parsons said. “Once eggs are laid, fish need time to re-energize.”
That means walleyes might not be in the mood to fight a fisherman on opening day.
“They might be a little lethargic, so to speak,” Parsons said. “You might have to fish a little bit slower. You might want to think about fishing smaller, shallower lakes.”
Hansen is banking on pan fish instead.
“They want walleye, but they’ll take crappies,” Hansen said.
Some anglers might also need to change where they fish. Lakes in the Twin Cities should lose their ice this week, but some lakes up north could still be coated.
Even if the ice goes out, the DNR said you should check with local bait shops.
Launch points might not be ready, and large leftover ice chunks could damage boats.
In addition, a quick warm up with no cool down could be good for walleye — more eggs could survive and fish would hatch. Fishing for walleye and pike will be better at the end of May, and into June.
Leaches will not be available until after the ice goes out and people can trap them, so bait shops are in wait-and-see mode.