Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

May 10, 1999

Fishing opener Sat., May 15

The 1999 Minnesota fishing opener for walleye and northern pike on inland waters is set for Saturday, May 15 at midnight.

The prospects for this year's opener are good and as in years past, huge crowds of anglers will take to the lakes, rivers, and ponds in search of keeper walleyes and fighting northern pike.

Locally, prospects for the opener seem to be a little bit better than good. The weather has been fair, the water has warmed at a good pace, water levels and landings on our area lakes are in excellent condition. The spring crappie bite has also been super.

If the weather holds out and conditions are good for the opener, the fishing should be excellent for walleye and, hopefully, better for northern pike.

Like most openers, the best fishing will probably occur on the smaller, shallow lakes where the water warms up and the fish become more active at a faster pace.

Regarding bait and presentation on the opener, start with live bait and a slow presentation in shallow water and stay that way.

If, by some incredible chance, the walleyes aren't willing to take live bait or a jig tipped with a minnow, try casting Rapalas into the shallows on the windy side of the lake.

For northern pike, still-fishing or trolling with suckers or shiners is definitely the method and bait of choice.

Based on past openers, good lakes in our area to hit for walleyes include: Ann, Washington, Belle, Marion, Collinwood, and Granite. Washington and Collinwood have been the best producers in recent years, but the competition can get tough.

Also, when you hear those great stories of limits of walleye on the opener, the anglers who caught them were probably fishing at night and were off the water by the time the crowds arrived.

Hot spots for northern pike have been Whaletail, Howard, Stahls, Winsted, Dog, Pleasant, John and both forks of the Crow River. John, Stahls, and Howard are consistent producers, while Whaletail, Winsted and the Crow are capable of producing good numbers of lunker fish on the opener.

With a few of the hot spots noted, it's time to steer the boat in a different direction for a bit. After all, there's a lot more to fishing than just catching fish.

Be safe, not sorry

  • Always try to fish with a partner and always let someone else know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
  • Wear your life jacket, especially when the water is cold and rough.
  • Boating while intoxicated is not only illegal, it's dangerous.
  • If your boat capsizes for some reason, stay with it instead of trying to swim to safety.
  • Give your self ample room for casting and be cautious on the back cast. A treble hook can be a deadly weapon.
  • Watch the weather and be prepared for all types of conditions and situations.

Be an ethical angler

  • Please be courteous and not competitive while fishing. You will have more fun and so will your fellow anglers.
  • Don't litter - what goes out with you should come back with you.
  • Prepare your boat and trailer when you're on the ramp so you can launch quickly.
  • Ask permission before entering private land.
  • Keep only the amount of fish you can use.
  • Practice catch and release and release some medium-sized fish along with the big ones so they can grow larger and be caught in the future.
  • Keep angling simple and remember to relax and have fun.

Read and follow the regulations. The 1999 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook is more than just a list of dates and laws.

Read it before you go out and take special note of regulations for '99 listed on page five, and experimental and special regulations on page 26.

Outdoor notes

  • Nightcrawler hunting: sometimes it's more fun than fishing. Nightcrawlers are super bait for walleyes and are the bait of choice for river fishing. Head out to your backyard on a warm rainy night and get yourself a bunch of them for the opener.
  • The season for largemouth bass on lakes in our area opens Saturday, May 29.
  • The Winsted Sportsmen's Club will meet Tuesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at the Lake Mary clubhouse. The agenda consists of planning the Take a Kid Fishing event.
  • In last week's column, I introduced you to the idea of a DNR sponsored Adopt-A-Landing program. In that column, I referred to the Winsted Sportsmen's Club and noted it would be an excellent example or model for the program because they own the landing on Lake Mary and maintain other boat landings in the area like those on Dog and Ida. In fact, the Winsted Club also owns and pays taxes on the landings on Lakes Ida, Dog, and Round, as well as Lake Mary.
  • The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club is proud to report it has graduated another fine class of conservationists from its DNR-certified and club-sponsored firearms safety training program.
  • Take a Kid Fishing weekend is set for Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13. On these two days, adults accompanying kids under age 16 may fish without a license.
  • Get ready for some morel mushroom hunting. Look for morels when the lilacs bloom.
  • Changing the line on your fishing reels on a regular basis will drastically cut down on the number of twists, tangles, and knots you get in your line. Fewer twists, tangles, and knots add up to more fun.
  • Have a great fishing opener and good luck!

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