Good news! The DNR did get the go ahead to with the walleye hatchery plans for the egg harvest this spawn season.
Walleyes started moving in during this last week, and all the new dock and netting for production is ready to go. Water temps getting into the 42-44 degree range will bring fish to the spawning area at the mouth of the Pelican River at Lake Sallie, where the harvest process has happened for years (except last year due to COVID-19).
Water temperatures have dropped this week with the cold front and a couple of snow events. A stretch of warm days and bright sun will warm the water and bring the fish back in. It could take a couple more weeks to complete meeting the quota goals for harvest, especially if we continue to have this yo-yo weather. A consistent warm up with stable weather and conditions can speed the process up.
More good news is that after breaking down the harvest set up and fish leaving the area, the DNR will put the new fishing pier together and get it set up next to the river mouth on the Lake Sallie side of Dunton Locks Park.
The remodeling of the area during last summer and fall, along with the new fishing pier, will provide for a lot of available shore fishing in the park. The fishing pier will also be handicap accessible. I will let you know as soon as the pier becomes available to use.
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All the lakes in the area are ice free. We have a full month of an open water panfish season ahead of us before the walleye/northern season opener of May 15.
Some anglers have already been out shore fishing, and in boats, chasing crappies and bluegills. With the water cooling down, look for those fish to move back out off the first break and hold out there until the water starts warming back up.
Look for the warmest water for active bait fish and fish there. Shallow bays, the north end of the lakes, and darker stained water always warms first. The smaller shallow lakes warm before the larger deeper lakes.
Key fish holding areas will also have weed growth that is green. Bull rushes and cabbage patches can always be locations worth a check for holding early season panfish. Areas with current can also attract bait fish and game fish will follow their food.
Enjoy the extra-long open water panfish season we are being blessed with this year!
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)
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