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Tom Mix, Published May 10 2013

Finding open lakes will be tough during fishing opener

FARGO – Today’s Minnesota fishing opener stands to be one local anglers won’t forget, and depending on how the late ice-out affects their fishing options, it may turn out to be one they will not want to remember.

The countdown to the opener is done, but many lakes in northern Minnesota still have ice, a lingering reminder of the region’s long winter.

So where are the best spots for catching fish, especially the coveted walleyes?

“The challenge is going to be finding areas with open lakes,” said Scott Brewer, who is the president of F-M Walleyes Unlimited Inc. “The way the weather has changed lately and there will be some open lakes, but it will be a matter of finding them.”

With limited options, anglers will have to be flexible and ready to adjust.

Off-shore fishing might work at certain parts of the day, but Kyle Agre said other fishing spots like rivers could bring higher activity.

“Some things to consider are areas where there is a current or flowing water,” said Agre, who is the vice president of F-M Walleyes Unlimited Inc. “Those are areas that will draw fish and that will be open.”

The late ice-out also has impacted bait selection.

John Store, who owns Quality Bait and Tackle in Detroit Lakes, Minn., said certain bait availability will be an issue this weekend around the region.

As of Thursday, Store had yet to stock shiners, a popular bait for walleye anglers.

“We have a full line of bait, we just don’t have the shiners yet,” Store said. “If they are unavailable to find you are not going to have them in the stores. It’s not just me.”

Importing bait is not allowed in Minnesota, so anglers will be at the mercy of what’s available and hope the fish take interest.

Brewer, Agre and several other members of the F-M Walleyes are serving as fishing hosts for the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener in Park Rapids, Minn., today.

Agre said bait stores he and Brewer stopped at on the way to Park Rapids were still without shiners.

“Both bait shops we stopped at were hopeful of getting bait in at the eleventh hour and a lot of the stores have said the shiners may be tough to get,” Agre said. “But with the late ice out the fathead minnows are a little smaller, which can be effective.”

Store said he doesn’t anticipate a busy day and said anglers will have to be patient. Ice-out is a week away in some lakes and Store said that is not a big deal, because when the lakes open up is when the fish will be biting.

Brewer and Agre will likely have limited time for fishing on Saturday because of their hosting duties, which include taking sponsors, politicians and photographers out on the lake to monitor Gov. Mark Dayton’s progress.

“I have been aware of the event for as long as I can remember growing up in Minnesota,” Agre said. “And now to be a part of it is really a privilege.”

“This is one of those bucket list items,” Brewer added. “Being a fishing guide at the Governor’s Opener is something all anglers should do at least once in their lives. Just to be a part of it and see everything that goes along with it is something that is an interesting experience.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562