Brad Laabs: Birds, open water are signs of spring
This last week we have seen the return of increasing numbers of trumpeter swans, geese, ducks, and eagles. They are all sharing a limited amount of open water and are getting along well with each other. Their return to our area is a sure sign of spring. So is the return of many of the other birds that are enjoying my wife’s birdfeeders. They are all naturally intuitive, and know that they will have more available open water very shortly. The longer daylight hours, calendar period, and warming river and creek water dumping into our lakes not only draws the return of these migratory creatures, but is also drawing fish to stage in spawning areas.
The walleyes and saugers of the Mississippi river finished their spawning this last week. Historically, our walleyes are only a week or two behind the pool 3 and 4 area walleyes of the river.
The DNR has put the netting in the mouth of the Pelican River inlet into Lake Sallie in preparation for the walleye spawning ritual. The walleyes have already started filtering into the river mouth, but aren’t ripe for the stripping operation yet. It will all happen shortly, and the egg harvest will help with the restocking programs.
It is fun to watch the process, and see all the quality fish that migrate to the river spawning area. Northern pike and muskies also come into the river current holding areas, but are released back to the lake to do their thing on their own. Once the walleyes have been relieved of their spawn or sperm, they are released back into Lake Sallie so they can return next year at this time to donate to the stocking program.
For those that like to take advantage of the early shore fishing that is available at Dunton Locks Park, a reminder that you can’t fish in the enclosed netted areas. Muskrat and Sallie shore lines by the river inlet have opened up enough to fish from now. Pan fish and bass will be active in the warming shallows. Remember that the bass that bite your offerings when fishing for the sunfish and crappies need to be returned to the lake immediately. Make sure if you take a few pan fish for the table that you follow the harvest regulations listed in your rules and regulations book.
It was entertaining to see how anxious everyone seems to be to enjoy what the little amount of open water has to offer. This last week when driving around to see the progress of the shorelines getting exposed, we saw kayakers and paddle boaters using the few feet of exposed open water! As my wife, Mary, and I went on our annual early season progress check, we ran into other people doing some of the same checks. It is not just us fishermen that are ready to get rid of the ice and transition to the open water.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)