Fishing opener: Many anglers find the bite as cool as the water temps

In terms of weather conditions, anglers who set out on Minnesota’s pike and walleye opener on Saturday morning couldn’t complain much in the Alexandria area.

It was cool. Those who launched their boats at midnight did so with temperatures in the low 40s, but rains stayed away and wind was almost nonexistent with the sun peeking through the clouds as the day got closer to noon.

As for the bite, that was almost as cool as the early-morning temperatures for many of the anglers coming off of Lake Mary, a popular opener destination in the area.

Andy Lund of Moorhead has a cabin in the area and fishes Lake Mary quite regularly on opener. He generally can find a few walleyes to take home, but ran into tougher luck on Saturday, boating just one northern.

“Guys around me were finding fish, but I wasn’t finding anything,” Lund said. “Guys with little walleyes. One 21-incher I saw someone caught, but that was it.”

Lund was targeting walleyes in areas he normally does on opener - 17-20 feet of water and going after them with a jig and a minnow. He saw some fish on the depth finder, but not as many as last year, he said.

Bob Booth of Carlos and Tim Olson of Alexandria were on Lake Mary before 7 and had a couple of small walleyes to show for their efforts that they threw back.   

“We went a little shallower. We ended up with two in probably 13-16 feet of water,” Olson said. “Warmer years we’ve caught them out in 20-22 feet of water on opener out here. It’s just a different year. Thirty days behind on a lot of stuff.”

The late ice out this year has meant cool water temperatures. Lake Mary was about 52 degrees Saturday morning.

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“With the colder water, it’s got to slow them down,” Booth said.

Booth and Olson have fished Lake Mary on opener for many years and did not see the kind of boat traffic they often see on the lake.

“We like to go out for the opener, even though it can be crazy,” Booth said. “There weren’t as many boats out this year. It’s definitely slowed it down. I think people just said we’ll wait until the water warms up a little more.”

Booth’s strategy is to make the best of the situation and go after crappies as the bays continue to warm up over the next week. That was the plan for many of the anglers coming off of Mary, including Jeff Dewanz of Alexandria.

Dewanz was on Lake Oscar early in the morning on opener and caught nothing. Another angler putting his boat in on Mary had a similar report after spending the early morning on Oscar.

Dewanz’s boat caught a few fish on Mary, but things were slow.

“It’s kind of what I thought it was going to be, though,” Dewanz said.

A few weeks ago, there were anglers who wondered if they would even have open water to fish on as the cold held on through April. Temperatures rose and the ice was off all over the area. In that sense, it was a win for anglers on Saturday. The bite might have been slow, but there is a lot of season left for things to heat up.

By Eric Morken

Source, images, credits & more information: EchoPress