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Walleyes may be finicky on Opening Weekend

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It's time to get after those glasseyes again and gigantic Otter Tail Lake, 20 miles west of Wadena, should be a prime destination for many area anglers.

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Gary Peterson of Ken's Tackle on the southwest side of Otter Tail is one of the go-to guys on the lake. Peterson is approaching the 2009 opener the same way he always does.

"It's a crapshoot every spring," Peterson joked as he prepared for another May opener.

Opener tradition demands that you tip your hook with a shiner minnow on the opener and work the shallows where the walleyes are chasing shiner schools. The problem this spring is that the shiners are not running quite yet so anglers might have to consider alternative baits.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries crew taking walleye eggs at the Walker Lake Hatchery usually wraps up their operation in a week. As of Tuesday morning they had been at it for nine days. The common theory is that many walleyes have already spawned in the lake, which has been proven to have excellent spawning habitat.

Otter Tail's lake level is at a near-record high, it is up 18 inches from last fall, and the river current near Pleasure Park and Walker Lake is very strong. The lake's water temperature is 45 degrees, about five degrees below the ideal opening weekend temperature. Peterson is recommending that anglers work 5-12 feet of water with a shiner or fathead on a Lindy rig or jig, but have some leeches in the boat too.

"I would use a smaller presentation like a fathead minnow," Peterson said. "The walleyes coming off the spawn will be more finicky, they likely won't chase the larger minnows."

As far as the competition at the accesses is concerned, Peterson expects it to be heavy.

"Because of the long winter, a lot of people are going to be anxious to get out," Peterson said.

DNR Trails and Waterways manager Bruce Winterfeldt has Otter Tail Lake's Sportsman's access, on Highway 78 near Ottertail, ready to go. The access on the east side of Rush Lake, another favorite fishing spot for local anglers, is also open.

The forecast for Saturday in the Ottertail area is for partly cloudy skies and a high in the upper 50s. The forecast for Sunday is for mostly cloudy skies and a high in the lower 60s.

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