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Be kind and help out at lake accesses

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

Welcome Minnesota fishing opener. For many, this is the official kickoff to the start of the open water fishing season.

Others have been enjoying a couple of weeks of chasing pan fish on the open water locally, or enjoying walleye fishing on lakes like Big Stone and Traverse that have an earlier start to the gamefish season.

Some take advantage of early fishing at Rainy River, Missouri River, or the Mississippi River. The "opener" has been an unofficial Minnesota holiday, much like the opening weekend of deer hunting. It is also the big reminder to remember Mother's Day on Sunday.

Opener isn't usually the best fishing for most anglers. The bite will typically continue to improve the next few weeks following the opening weekend. Some anglers will hit it big, some will get a few, and some will struggle to find fish. Welcome to fishing.

Sometimes the success is as simple as choosing the right lake, as some lakes will be better than others due to many factors that influence fish behavior. Some anglers will be in the right spot doing the wrong thing, some will be in the wrong spots doing the right things, and those that have good success happen to be in the right spots doing the right things.

Keep in mind that the opener is a success no matter how many fish you catch if you are out enjoying nature and sharing it with friends and family. Make sure that fishing is fun for you and those you share the experience with, and yes, it is a little more fun if you do some catching. Change it up if you struggle with the walleyes. The crappies and sunfish will cooperate. Northern will almost always be willing to bite in shallow water during opening weekend, and the last couple of years now you can target bass (just don't keep any). A tug and fight on the end of the line can make any kid smile, no matter what the age.

This is a busy weekend no matter what the conditions are, because it is an event. Some years we get cold, snow, sleet, rain, high winds and combinations of all, and it will still be busy. We have had sun, been hot, and had no wind....and it is busy.

The weather that coincides with the opener is unpredictable and inconsistent from year to year. We adjust and adapt. This year looks to be pleasant, and will bring even more anglers to the lakes. So it will be busy.

The reminder to you (and to myself!), is to be patient, tolerant, and helpful of others at the landings. For some, this weekend, along with a few other holidays, and may be a vacation, are all they get as far as getting out to enjoy this sport. It is easy for me to forget how lucky I am to get to enjoy the benefits of this sport much more frequently than most.

They also are not as practiced at preparing for outings, launching, and loading. It is hard to be aware of good public landing etiquette if you don't get out much or haven't been taught. If you are helping to educate someone at the landing, be kind, courteous, and have an appropriate tone of voice.

I have been guilty of getting frustrated with some of the "remember, it's all about me" behavior at the accesses that can happen when things are busy. I must remind myself to breath, relax, and be patient. Be the example. Respond the ways I would hope others will respond to me when I am not at my best or just don't know any better. If I let it get to me, it robs me of my peace of mind until I can get on the water and relax!

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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