Lower water temperatures than normal may mean anglers need to be prepared to switch from their normal routine this weekend during Minnesota's fishing opener.
But that doesn't mean they can't expect to find some fish, according to Otter Tail area fishing guide Randin Olson.
Olson's been guiding around the Otter Tail lakes area for about five years, and fishing the region for about 25 years. He said unless a drastic warmup occurs, water temperatures will likely remain in the upper 40s and lower 50s. In general, the shallows of the lakes warm up first and fish turn up their feeding when that warmup occurs. Olson believes the key is going to be finding those game fish like walleye or northern in the shallows. They go there to spawn and it might be that because temperatures remain low, they'll still be there.
"We are a little behind, but I think it's going to be a better bite than we normally would have," Olson said.
If they are shallow, it should be much easier to locate the fish in those concentrated areas. But you still have to get them to bite. And for that, Olson suggests anglers don't look down on artificial baits. While he knows the minnow as the go-to for many, be stands by the fact that you can keep a bait in the water longer with plastics. You just need to find the right setup.
You'll have to consider how you normally present that lure too.
Erik Osberg, Otter Tail County Rural Rebound Initiative Coordinator, and avid angler said the colder water could translate to lethargic fish.
"That doesn't mean you have to fish lethargically," Osberg said.
If the fish don't respond to a fast retrieve, slow it down, or vice versa.
While the bigger fish may be in the shallows, Olson has been seeing the panfish, like crappies, hanging out in the 8 - 10 foot range. They are waiting for the warm up before they start setting up shop in the shallows.
Osberg said that the big lake, Otter Tail Lake, will be hard to beat for the opener. Last year he recalls the lake produced great numbers of eater-size walleye, for those looking for a good fish fry.
"It's big enough that there's always a spot that's going to produce," Osberg said.
If he was around for the opener that's where he would be, but instead, he is off to the Governor's Fishing Opener to promote Otter Tail Lake and the many great lakes surrounding it.
Rules and regulations to remember
Area Minnesota DNR enforcement officer Tricia Plautz reminds all boaters to be well prepared for the cool weather and water. She stressed the importance of good driving etiquette in the water and parking areas as boating areas can get very congested at this time of year.
She added she'll be heavily focused on invasive species this opener, keeping an eye out to make sure all drain plugs are out as boaters leave the access. All weeds are removed from the boats and trailers.
Plautz points out that while you can catch bass at the start of the walleye and northern pike season, they are catch and release only at this point. Meanwhile northern pike have a limit of 10 in our region of central Minnesota.
While Plautz has her eyes on making sure everyone follows the rules, she hopes they enjoy their time outdoors as well.
"I just hope everyone has a safe and successful time on the water," Plautz said.
If you go
What: Minnesota fishing opener for walleye, pike, trout in lakes
When: Midnight Saturday morning
Who: Anyone fishing needs a fishing license except moms who fish free on Mother's Day weekend. Most state parks also allow fishing without a license.