It seemed like it took a long time for water temps to go from 50 degrees to 60 degrees, and when they finally got to 60 degrees, the hot weather and sunshine of the week before last jumped water temps to over 70 at times in just a matter of days. The cool nights of this last week has kept the water temps in the low to mid 60s in the morning and raising to the high 60s during the day and dropping them again at night.
June brings the start to the muskie season. All seasons are in full swing now this weekend. Big Detroit, Pelican (and Fish), Sallie, Many Point, and Beers are the lakes most fished for muskie in our area. Melissa also has a small population, but does not get the pressure the other lakes do at this point. Pelican will be a challenge Saturday for the muskie opener, as the F-M Walleye club has a walleye tournament on the lake this Friday and Saturday.
Water temperatures continue to hover in the mid 50 degree range, and the lakes continue to be slow to warm due to the weather we have had this last month. As long as water temps continue to be under the low 60 degree range, you will find all game species of fish using shallow water for both food and comfort. The shiner run is in full swing as they get ready for their shallow water spring spawning ritual, and they become a primary food source for not only walleyes, but all fish. They are an extremely high protein source that is vulnerable and easy now to be fish food.
Since the ice has come off the lakes, the water has not had much of a chance to warm this last week, with the weather we have had. The temperatures will be better all week this week until the fishing opener, but we will be lacking the sunshine. Shiners will be hard to come by for the opener unless we do get some warming sun. The shallow water warms more quickly with the sunshine than it does with a 50-plus degree day with cloud cover.
Only two weeks until fishing opener! Conditions are setting up very nicely for this to be a very good opener. We seemed to have turned the corner to some real spring weather. The walleye spawn is over now, and the DNR had met the quota for egg harvest this year several days before the harvest was over.
Several hardcore, veteran, experienced ice anglers continued to venture onto the ice on area lakes right up until Sunday, April 14. Ice thicknesses continued to be around 18-20 inches of good clear ice with several inches of mushy ice on top. Those that did continue to venture out were having good success with tullibees, perch, crappies, and sunfish. Even these experienced ice anglers are done now. If you get the itch to get out on really late ice next year, make sure you go with someone experienced in ice fishing the late season.
I am sorry I did not have an article for you to read from me last week. I hope you missed me. I am up at Rainy River fishing the last two weeks of the walleye season on our northern border. There is not much for cell reception and I am staying at a buddy's house on the river that does not have wi-fi.
This last week has knocked our snow cover down significantly. The ice thickness on the lakes has not been worked on too much by Mother Nature due to the energy going into dealing with our snowpack. The ice is easier for travel now than it was a week ago, and way better than two weeks ago! Do not take vehicles onto the ice now. Sleds and wheelers will be OK for the next week or so, then it is time for foot traffic and checking conditions as you go.
Last week, I wrote about how difficult the ice conditions were due to flooding and slushing. Well after another foot of snow, wind, drifting, and a stretch of warm weather, sun, and rain, the conditions are even worse. The best plan now is to stay off the lakes. It is possible we may get a short window to get back on the ice, if the snow gets knocked down and things freeze back up on some of the overnights. As always with fishing, the weather is key, so keep your eye on the forecast if you still have the ice fishing scratch to itch.
Well, the big news, just released from the DNR recently, is that there will be some type of allowable walleye harvest on the nationally renowned walleye fishery, Mille Lacs Lake. The last several years, the DNR and the eight Chippewa bands involved with the management of Mille Lacs, have worked cooperatively to help recover a depleted walleye population.