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On May 7, Neil Ranum, Rick Loxtercamp and Gordy Berthiaume were set up about 20 feet from shore on the south end of Lake Osakis, making the best of the still frozen lake. That morning, Loxtercamp said there was still about 24 inches of not-so-good ice on the big lake and he's predicting May 13 as the official ice out date. In the meantime, Minnesota's walleye and northern pike fishing season opens Saturday. (Photo by Amy Chaffins)

2013 fishing opener keeps anglers grounded

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Speculations and predictions have been circulating about this year's fishing opener. Will the ice be melted in time to cast off on Saturday? We'll just have to wait and see.

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"I've never seen anything like this before," said Dana Freese with Christopherson Bait in Alexandria.

Traffic at the bait shop has been a trickle but Freese forecasts it will pick up immediately after the ice is gone. Mostly people are buying their fishing licenses and respooling in preparation for the unofficial official start of the season later this month.

"We really need the ice to get off the lakes for the town to pick up," Freese said. "Rain would definitely help. If we could get an inch of rain, it would go a long way toward opening up those lakes where ice has already pulled away from shore."

Freese said he's heard reports of lakes connected to the Chippewa and Pomme de Terre rivers opening up and noted that Lake Agnes behind the bait shop was starting to bust open.

"Most of the lakes in the chain, and Ida and Miltona, I just don't see it happening," Freese said.

What will be happening is more fishing close to shore and in creeks. Walleye start spawning under the ice and in a typical year, there are just a few stragglers left behind by opener. This year, there will be more fish in shallow areas and around currents because the ice has lingered.

Prime walleye fishing needs water temperatures in the 50 to 60 degree range. Right after the ice melts water is still cooler. Freese said the best fishing time frame will depend on how fast the weather and water temperatures heat up.

Since it has been so cold, leeches aren't going to be abundant early this season. Freese recommends using a jigging minnow and fishing shallower than usual.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends checking ice conditions and the availability of public water accesses and roads leading to them prior to heading out to fishing destinations. The DNR said bait shops, resorts and area DNR offices can provide reliable information.

To find a nearby DNR office, visit www.mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html. Additional information on this year's walleye and northern pike opener can be found at www.mndnr.gov/opener/fishing.

FISHING OPENER TIPS

Stick close to shore.

Fish rivers and areas where current flows.

Use jigging minnows.

Check ahead before setting out for your destination.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

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Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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