The walleye opener in the Detroit Lakes area was a big success. Not everyone caught walleyes, but the wonderful weather and other active fish made for a great opener. My son Jake was able to join me for opening day and we were fortunate enough to find active walleyes on Ottertail lake in 7 to 11 feet of water. We kept fish to eat, put many smaller fish back, and released a 23- and a 23.5-incher as well.
Now that opening weekend for walleye and northern is here, I have a couple suggestions that may be helpful (and might save you a couple bucks!). The first tip has to do with keeping live bait fresh and alive. We will talk about minnows first as in the early season, shiners, redtails, rainbows, and fatheads are "go to" baits. When you come off the lake, you must either dispose of minnows, or transfer them into well water. Remember, you can't transport lake water! I keep a cooler full of well water in the back of my Tahoe.
Now that opening weekend for walleye and northern is here, I have a couple suggestions that may be helpful (and might save you a couple bucks!) The first tip has to do with keeping bait fresh and alive. We will talk about minnows first, since in the early season, shiners, red tails, rainbows, and fatheads are the "go to" baits.
We are a week away from the "fishing opener." Along with the deer hunting opener, these are the most popular of the unofficial Minnesota holidays. With the weather we are having now and the forecast through next weekend, it is shaping up to be a very good opening weekend. The warm weather will make for busy lakes. Remember to practice patience at area accesses, as there are always some anglers that just aren't as prepared, organized, efficient, and thoughtful of others as you are.
We will have several weeks of panfish action available before the May 13 "fishing opener" arrives. As of 12:01 a.m. (just after midnight Friday, May 12), the season opens for gamefish, which include walleyes and northern pike. The bass opener will be May 27 this year. As of last year, you can still target bass from now until the opener, but you can't keep any until the official "bass opener" date. Musky fishing season will open June 3. You may not target those fish before the opening date.
Ice free at last, ice free at last, thank God Almighty we are ice free at last! Through the weekend there will only be a few lakes left in the area to become totally ice free, but 95 percent of all our lakes are able to float a boat now. It is early, but for some reason, it seems very welcome already to have lakes open, and warm weather with no snow. Obviously things could change (note Devils Lake, N.D. getting 6 inches of snow just days ago) but the long range forecast looks good for us.
I am calling it: Ice fishing for this spring is over. With this current warm stretch, the ice has deteriorated significantly the last few days and there is no ice is safe anymore in our area.
We have come to the end of the ice season. There will always be a few who will push the ice season to the limit, but there's no need to do that with a soon-to-be-available open water season in our area.
We still have quality ice conditions on our area lakes. The last week of cold weather has kept ice conditions stable, and even developed a new inch or two of solid, clear ice. Ice thickness on most lakes still ranges from 16 to 22 inches.
The last couple of years this time of year (as we clear fish houses off the lakes and near the end of the ice season), I have written about my frustration with the messes left on the ice. This year, our area lakes seem to have been left in better shape than the past several years. I know several others have stepped up to clean up after others besides me, maybe it was worse and some others got to the junk before I checked. This year, the Perham area lakes were left a mess.