A wet & cold opener
Only the die-hards came out on Saturday to open the 2008 fishing season.
At least that's what local resident Dick Groth said while taking his boat out of Lake Sallie in the early afternoon. "Fishing is for the hardy," he said.
Groth looked grateful for a short respite before the skies opened up again. "It was sleeting a couple of minutes ago," he said. "Making it nasty."
With cold rain, sleet and snow mixed in, those out on the area's lakes had to put up with some terrible conditions. Temperatures dropped as the morning and afternoon passed, making the day even tougher for those who thought the worst part would pass early in the morning.
"Most people who went out did it to say they had gone," said Susan Ellison, who was out on Big Cormorant Lake on Saturday.
Even with warmer and sunnier conditions on Sunday, the chances to catch walleye were slim. "My expectations were low," said fisherman Sam Karels. "It was just to get out on a nice day."
In addition, Karels had some extra fun and didn't even have to cast out. "The highlight of my day was going after a bobber with a fish on it," he said.
Karles did end up catching a couple of bass and a crappie. According to Groth, "the only thing that is biting is bass."
Jeff Hoss didn't expect many bites either. He just wanted to enjoy a nice day on the lake. "I don't expect much because of the cold weather," Hoss said.
With the late breaking of the ice -- many lakes opened up just a week ago -- the water was colder than normal. Lake Sallie was deemed officially clear on May 1, Detroit Lake on May 5 and Big Cormorant on May 7.
Some bait shops suffered as well, though at least one, the Country 6 Tesoro & Bait shop near Lake Sallie, did okay over the weekend, according to owner Shirley Kalberer. "I think yesterday was just as busy as today," she said.
But John Store, owner of Quality Bait & Tackle, said that traffic through his shop was slow. He estimated that 100 people came through on the weekend, compared to the 400 patrons usually seen for the opener.
Store added that the news of bad weather and the late ice-outs kept fishermen away. "There are all the negatives to report and you never get any of the positive reports," Store said.
Detroit Lake was virtually empty all day Saturday and showed only a smattering of boats on Sunday.
The DNR fishing pier near the American Legion was deserted as well. Only one or two people at a time were casting out at any given moment through out the day.
Despite the conditions, Store said that the real fishermen need to deal with any type of conditions.
You just have to put on your coveralls and just grit and bear it," Store said.