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Kerry Collins, Published May 10 2009

Chilly opener hooks fewer fishermen than normal, but conservation officer still keeps busy

DUNVILLA, Minn. – Cold weather put a chill into the Minnesota fishing opener, but that didn’t mean Gary Forsberg wasn’t busy.

A conservation officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Forsberg had a light day on Saturday while on the lookout for rule-breakers during the fishing opener thanks to the cold.

“When cold fronts like this hit, it slows things down,” Forsberg said. “With it’s cold like this, there aren’t going to be as many people out.

“But we’re still out because it’s the opener.”

With a temperature around 40 degrees on Lake Franklin – roughly 10 miles northeast of Pelican Rapids – fishermen were sparse, and so were bites.

Before hitting Lake Franklin on Saturday, Forsberg said he patrolled Lake Lida for about four hours and could count the number of walleye fishermen he ran into there on one hand.

“A lot of it is dependent on the weather, and with the water this cold, there aren’t going to be a lot of bites,” Forsberg said. “You hate it when it’s 90 degrees or something, and I don’t mind it when it’s a little cool out here, but this is ridiculous.”

Forsberg has worked as a conservation officer for the past 19 years.

His job on the fishing opener was to make sure everybody fishing was following the rules – mainly having current fishing licenses and boat registrations.

On Lake Franklin, that also meant no more than five crappies per person, and all kept crappies had to be at least 10 inches long.

Forsberg found just 10 boats in his three hours on Lake Franklin, and the only trouble he encountered was the cold.

“Because it’s the opener, everybody’s got their license with them, so you don’t run into a lot of trouble with that this weekend,” Forsberg said. “And it’s pretty sparse out here. You want it to be a little nicer because more activity makes the time go faster.”

A couple of times, fishermen were reeling in catches as Forsberg pulled his boat up next to their boat.

One of those instances produced a good looking bass, but that had to be tossed back. That season doesn’t start for another two weeks.

“A lot of times they’ll catch fish while I’m right up there next to them,” Forsberg said. “Sometimes you have to tell them, ‘Hey, you’ve got a fish on your pole’ because they’re digging for their license and their pole will be bobbing.”

Forsberg’s also a fisherman when he’s off the DNR’s clock, but that didn’t mean he’d be out braving the cold weather on the opener.

But he admits the scenery can get a little old when he hauls his boat back to a lake he just spent a few hours patrolling

“I like to get out and fish, but after spending all day on a lake working, you don’t really want to go back there,” Forsberg said with a laugh. “I just try to get to other lakes to fish if I can.

“But I’ll come back to a lake I was working if the fish are biting.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

Collins’ blogs can be foundat www.areavoices.com