Walleye hunters returning to lakes this weekend
A late walleye run in Otter Tail County is not expected to dampen appetites on the first weekend of the 2014 fishing season.
Anglers who dropped their pursuit of Minnesota’s state fish back in February will be able to pick up their rods and reels and go after the bottom feeders again this Saturday.
Fergus Falls Area Fisheries Manager Jim Wolters has already encountered the popular game fish at the Department of Natural Resources fish trap on the Dead River. Wolters and his staff set up a fish trap in April each year and milk female walleyes of their spawn. Clay-coated eggs go into battery jars at the Walker Lake Fish Hatchery where they grow into walleye fry.
“We never hit our peak with the walleye run,” Wolters said. “The peak was probably this past weekend. The walleye run should be done, or mostly done, in the majority of our lakes by the opener.”
Anglers will find themselves dealing with an early fishing opener after a late spring. The lake shiners which walleyes like to chase in the shallows early in the season had not started to run as the week began.
“We have golden shiners but not lake shiners yet - they are about a week away,” said Nate Larson of Ben’s Bait in Battle Lake.
Wolters rates Otter Tail Lake as one of the top 10 fishing lakes in the county as the season begins.
“The other larger lakes we have in Otter Tail County would finish off the list,” Wolters said. “Don’t overlook the smaller, shallow lakes as they will have the warmest water temperatures.”
Wolters sees water temperatures in the upper 40s and low 50s in Otter Tail’s main lakes this weekend.
“Water temperatures in the bays will be higher and may provide the best bite for panfish if the walleyes do not want to cooperate,” Wolters said.
Saturday’s weather forecast is for partly cloudy skies, a light southeasterly wind and a high of 65 degrees in Otter Tail County.
Wolters expects all DNR public launches to be ready for the opening weekend but is not certain that all docks will in the water.
Problems associated with Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in Otter Tail County have not gone away and Wolters recommends anglers and other lake users to know the transport laws.