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Fishing: Great bite proves worth the wait for anglers

Scott Murphy of Chicago visited the Mike Holte family on Lake Geneva recently, where he caught this 27.5-inch, 7.5-pound walleye in between catching about a dozen bass. (Contributed photo)

Anglers from around the area had to wait to get on the water this spring, but it's a wait that proved to be worth it with the kind of bite that has been hitting on many area lakes.

Anglers in the 2013 Osakis Lions Walleye Tournament June 15 and 16 were right in the middle of that. A total of 436 walleyes were caught in the tournament, including 242 the first day. The biggest of those was seven pounds brought in by Pat Mulroy and Tim Fritz of Minneapolis on day one.

Travis DeWitt of Christopherson Bait in Alexandria heard from anglers that it wasn't uncommon to have 50-fish days for a boat with two fishermen on Lake Reno and Lake Osakis during that time.

"You definitely don't hear of 50-fish days very commonly," DeWitt said. "That's a lot of walleyes. It's tough to say (how it compares to years past). I've worked here, this is my seventh summer and I haven't heard of too many 50-fish days from credible sources. The fishing is obviously better now than it has been in years past."

DeWitt added Lake Ida, Mary, Miltona and the Chain of Lakes as some of the bodies of water where the bite is still going strong.

"Walleyes are biting pretty well on most lakes," he said. "They're in the newly developed cabbage beds in 8-18 feet on most lakes. Reno and Mary have been the best. I've also heard on the chain - Carlos, Darling, L'Homme Dieu have been pretty good for walleyes. Evening and morning are the best, but you can still pick away at them during the day. It's just not as good."

Osakis general store manager Jed Fiskness said the northerns, bass and panfish were also being caught at a rapid pace in June. Both he and DeWitt feel the best explanation for the frenzy stems from ideal water temperatures sticking around a lot longer after a late spring.

"We generally have a good bite every year," Fiskness said. "It's just, this bite lasted a lot longer than normal. I think it's basically to do with having optimal water temperatures for a lot longer. That's the only thing I can come up with. That or the long winter made the fish more hungry, so they stayed active longer. I don't really have an answer other than we had the longest really good bite that we've had for a while."

Things have slowed down a bit after storms moved through the area the weekend of June 22, but anglers are still reporting a good bite on a lot of area lakes. Lindy Rigs tipped with a nightcrawler or leeches have been the popular tactic for walleyes. Slip bobbers at night have also been effective.

That should continue into the 4th of July weekend if anglers can fish in the mornings and evenings and the weather cooperates.

"I think the fishing should be able to hold up," DeWitt said. "I don't really see why it would slow down. Maybe if it got super hot, into the 90s. Then it could shut down, but with it being mid-to-high 70s every day, that's pretty good for us. That's kind of one of the reasons [it's been good] too. It's just nice out. It's not too hot and it's not 50 degrees or anything."

Two months ago, it seemed the ice would never leave. Now that feels like a distant memory for anglers who have been helped by the weather that seemed to be cursing them in April.

"Those water temps have stayed cooler this whole year," DeWitt said. "Now they're getting up there, but last year at this time we had summer for about four months by now. This year we've only had it for about two. The late spring, it's helping the walleye bite for sure."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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