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Signs all point to a good fishing opener in area

An army of anglers will be grabbing their fishing rods, tackle boxes and heading for the lakes this weekend. Fresh-faced kids and grizzled veterans are expected to join forces on the opener in an annual Minnesota celebration.

"It's like 'uffda, we made it through another winter!'" Ross Hagemeister of Meister Guide Service joked.

Wadena area anglers heading for Hagemeister's favorite fishing grounds around Otter Tail Lake are encouraged to be mobile this year.

"If the fish are not biting don't be afraid to move," Hagemeister said. "They will be biting somewhere else."

There is a good reason for this advice from Hagemeister, who has been a fishing guide in Otter Tail County for more than 20 years. The 2016 opener is going to find fish on the move. Fishing patterns are expected to be similar to those of the Memorial Day weekend in late May.

While partly sunny skies and high temperatures in the 50s are predicted for Saturday and Sunday,

Fergus Falls area fisheries manager Jim Wolters does not expect the air temperature to have a great effect on water temperatures, which have been in the mid-50 degree range.

"It's a perfect water temperature," said Wolters, who has been on the water since walleye spawning began in April. His crew was out harvesting eggs from spawning walleyes in April. They are now busy moving the fry, which hatch from the eggs, to area lakes.

"Walleyes were done spawning before last week and by this weekend they should be in a feeding mode," Wolters said.

Wolters noted the river inlet to Otter Tail, on the northeast side of the lake, is a good place to kick off the season in a typical year. The water is warmer and the baitfish, which the larger predators hunt, are active there first. It is not unusual to see a fleet of fishing boats camped in the shallows.

"I think this year it's going to be different," Hagemeister said. "We're about two weeks ahead of normal."

Both men have watching the spawning activity of lake shiners. Hagemeister is one angler who regards the large silver baitfish as the catalyst for early season fishing success. Where you find them, you find fish.

"Everything will eat a shiner minnow," Hagemeister said. "Shiners have been spawning for a week to 10 days."

Because fish should be scattered, Hagemeister expects to see a lot of anglers working the breaks (drop-offs). As a guide, his job is to figure out as quickly as possible where the fish are biting and what they biting on.

"You are going to see lakes that are going to have fish that are schooled up," Hagemeister said. "From a guide's point of view it will make it easier, but it's never a freebie."

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