Chilly fishing opener forecast

050313_walleyeState walleye season gets off to sunny, breezy start Saturday

Spring’s late arrival continues to create havoc with Minnesota’s inland walleye, sauger and northern pike opener Saturday.

Many popular northern Minnesota lakes are still ice-covered and waters in open lakes might still be too cool for fish to bite.

And the weekend forecast calls for what has become standard fishing opener weather, sunny, windy and cool Saturday, sunny, less windy and cool again Sunday for Mother’s Day.

If last weekend’s walleye opener on the St. Croix River is any indication, anglers in Minnesota might struggle to catch anything, according to Matt Wiseman of Matt’s Lucky Bait & Tackle in Lakeland.

“It was pretty bad. It was slow all around,” he said about the river opener. “It’s starting to pick up this week.”

Wiseman added that he has not heard from any customers about any increased fish activity on area lakes.

“I haven’t gotten any reports. Up north, they’re (lakes) still frozen. Here, they’ve opened up nice. But nobody’s fishing lakes. It’s hard to tell,” he said.

The young businessman who opened his store in April lamented the effect this year’s cold, wet spring has had on his store.

“I spoke to one guy and he said he hasn’t seen anything like this in 38 years. It was a great time for me to open a bait shop,” he said.

Wiseman attributed the slow fishing on the St. Croix River last weekend to cool water temperatures and a high, swift current.

“I think the water temperatures are low and the water is moving fast,” he said.
The St. Croix River level had been rising last week and Wiseman said some people were concerned the river would reach the 83-foot level and trigger no-wake restrictions. However, the river did not reach the no-wake level and is falling this week.

“It’s slowly, slowly starting to fall,” he said.

So, where are St. Croix Valley anglers catching fish? Wiseman said several customers have had luck in areas around bridges on the river.

“Some people have reported getting a few between the bridges,” he said.

However, Wiseman believes a forecast for milder temperatures next week could help boost fish activity in area lakes. And for many people, the state’s annual inland waters fishing opener is another sign that spring has arrived, and Wiseman said one part of his business has been busy this week.

“We’re selling a bunch of (fishing) licenses. We’re going like crazy,” he said.

Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

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