Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

May 9, 2005

'Super Seven' for fishing opener

For years, well-known outdoor writer and TV personality Ron Schara has shared his list of deadly dozen lakes for a the Minnesota fishing opener.

Schara has kind of turned his deadly dozen list into a Minnesota fishing tradition, and at times, a lake in our area has been on his list. To my knowledge Washington, Howard, and Big Waverly have all been included.
I may have missed it, but this year, I haven’t yet read Schara’s deadly dozen for the opener.

Needless to say, the 2005 version of the Minnesota walleye and northern pike fishing season opens Saturday, May 14, and in our neck of the woods, we can gladly say we host a fair share of Minnesota’s 5,400 game fish lakes and 15,000 miles of fishable streams and rivers. In reality, we have more local fishing opportunities than most of us realize.

Although it’s not a deadly dozen and it’s not a part of Minnesota’s opening day fishing tradition, or even a part of anyone’s local fishing tradition, here’s my list of the “Super Seven” local fishing spots for the Saturday opener.

The goal or purpose of the list isn’t to catch a limit of opening day walleye or northern, or to spoil someone’s secret fishing hole, but to simply throw a line at a few spots that may be a good bet for catching a fish and having a good time on the opener.

Most on the list are traditionally good during the first part of the season – that’s why they’re on the list. A few, are a little off the wall, but so am I when it comes to fishing.

1. The Crow River

Both forks, the north and south: if the river is low and the current is manageable, the Crow can provide some super walleye angling.

Actually, I experienced the best walleye fishing of my life on the south fork of the Crow River.

On the north fork, an area just west of Howard Lake, near Albright’s Mill is a consistent producer.

On the south fork, the area below the dam in Hutchinson can be great, but busy. Stretches of the river west of Lester Prairie and near the Lester Prairie Waste Water Treatment Facility can also be good.

On the Crow, float a fathead minnow on a small jig or spinner rig. Floating jig heads work well with a heavy sinker about two feet up. Make sure you have permission from the landowner if you’re fishing from or crossing private property. Get yourself a map and pick out a township bridge if you don’t know where to start.

2. Lake Washington in Meeker County

Without question, Washington is probably the best opening day walleye lake in our area.

It is shallow, the water warms fast, it’s well-stocked with walleye, and for years it’s been a consistent producer. Get there early – try midnight – and be prepared for a good crowd. The best bet to nab a few on the opener is to watch what everyone else is doing.

3. Lake Ann between Howard Lake and Winsted

Ann was hot this winter, and on Ann that usually leads to some good spring fishing.

Try trolling spinner rigs along the weed line on the east side or head to the rock pile in the center of the lake almost straight out from the landing on the west shore.
If you do run into a mess of walleye on Ann, please throw the small ones back. In recent years and even after Ann’s fish kill event after serious flooding a few years ago, there have been complaints of anglers keeping too many small walleyes, 10 inches or less, from Ann.

4. Collinwood Lake, just south of Hwy 12 between Dassel and Cokato

Collinwood is another one of those consistent early season producers.
Anglers can nab walleye or northern pike and sometimes a lunker. On the opener, the lake will be busy. Fish the windy side of the lake or try trolling along the campground on the east side.

A few years ago on the opener, I landed a six-pound dogfish on Collinwood.

5. Stahls Lake, northeast of Hutchinson

Stahls isn’t a big lake and it’s not much of a walleye lake, but if you’re looking for fun and like to catch all kinds of small northern pike, Stahls is the place to go.

Tie on a jointed Rapala and start trolling. Cover the entire shoreline, work the southwest corner hard, and you’ll catch fish.

6. Silver Lake, the namesake of the City of Silver Lake

That’s right: Silver Lake.

I almost hate including this one because I don’t want to spoil the good walleye angling some have found on Silver in the past few years.

However, the fisheries guys from the DNR are telling me there’s a good group of small walleye in the lake that didn’t freeze out, and the early season walleye action could be good.

Don’t expect the fish to be big. And good luck, I’ve never fished the lake during open water.

Try a slip bobber rig with a leech or minnow.

7. Winsted Lake, now almost surrounded by the City of Winsted

The odds are pretty good that you won’t land a walleye on Winsted.

Actually, I don’t even know if Winsted has a walleye in it. Northern pike and some big ones provide the action there.

A few years ago on the opener, I watched a kid fishing from shore land about 15 northern pike in less than an hour. He was casting a red and white Daredevil and two of the fish were over seven pounds.

By the way, the kid already had his limit of crappies on the stringer. Try the bay in the southeast corner or head to the west side near the creamery.

That’s my super seven for the 2005 fishing opener.

All are close to home and fairly easy to fish, and one or more them may be the sleeper we’re all looking fOutdoor notes

• Joe’s Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake will be open for anglers until 10 p.m. Friday, May 13, Saturday, May 14, opening day, from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 15 from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The hours may change slightly due to weather and angler demand.
• Lil’ Angie’s Bait and Tackle at the Porthole in Lester Prairie will open for anglers during the opening weekend of the fishing season, Friday, May 13 until 1 a.m., Saturday, May 14 at 6 a.m., and Sunday, May 15 at 10 a.m.
• The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will be offering DNR certified firearms safety training classes in August.
For more information please contact Doug Minnick at (320) 395-2143.
• I haven’t heard much about the success of local turkey hunters so far this spring, and the number of turkeys seen in our area appears to be less than in previous years.
• Several readers reported a pair of bald eagles nesting near the Buffalo Creek along McLeod County Hwy 9 south of Plato.
• Turtles are out; last week I saw two huge turtles crossing roads.
Be cautious of them on highways and gravels roads and remember they won’t dart out of the way to avoid your tires.
• Where are the wood ducks – many readers are reporting there wood duck houses are not filled this year, and are noting a lack of wood ducks in the area.
• Morels will be out soon. Now is the time to start hunting for morel mushrooms.
Expect morels to start popping up right after next good warm day.
Typically, the best time to hunt morels is when the lilacs are blooming.
• Get your dog checked for heartworm, and on heartworm preventative medication.
• There are more pelicans in our area then I have ever noticed before.
Last week, along Hwy 12 near Howard Lake, there was a large flock of Pelicans scooping fish from a shallow pond just off the highway.
The birds had the fish rounded up in their standard fashion and were eating like crazy.
• Let wildlife remain wild. If you find a nest or recently hatched birds please leave them alone. The less we disturb nesting wildlife the better.
• Today the sun will rise at 5:52 a.m. and set at 8:42 p.m. On June 9, the sun will rise at 5:27 a.m. and set at 8:58 p.m.

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