Fishing report: Opening weekend goes as expected
Bluegills and crappies appear to be in season, as the walleye bite is expected to pick up in the coming weeks.
ALEXANDRIA - This year’s fish opener conditions were better than last’s, and while a late ice out caused some trouble, some anglers found some success.
“I would call it an average opener,” Alexandria area fishing guide and Echo Press contributing fishing columnist Mike Frisch said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “I actually personally didn’t fish on Saturday; I taught a School of Fish in southern Minnesota, so I was on the road a lot but did a little snooping around.”
Frisch said some of the small and shallower lakes had a better bite.
“At some of the bigger lakes, the bite was tougher, and it's kind of what we expected with a late ice out,” Frisch said. “The water temperature is rising in a hurry.”
Temperatures were in the 50s outside in the area on Saturday, with winds right about the mid to upper teens.
“It was a little bit tough,” Frisch said. “The clouds and the wind are a good thing, but it was maybe a little too much of a good thing. The wind was a little more than it needed to be.”
On the bait shop side of things, the opening weekend went about as expected too.
And while the weather might’ve affected some of the traffic in the lakes and shops, this past weekend was business per usual as Memorial Day weekend approaches.
“People only really had two or three weeks to get their stuff ready for opener instead of a month and a half,” Christopherson Bait Shop manager Andrew Brinkman said. “If you talk to the marine shops, they’re still looking at half of their boat storage not being picked.”
Brinkman said most people were buying bait for walleye and pike for the opener.
“The bait of choice right now would be our lake shiner,” Brinkman said. “They just started to run before the opener, and so they weren't able to get very many, so there's definitely a shortage on that. I would say, though, that things should be better in the next few weeks.”
Brinkman said that most fish are being caught at 5-to-10 feet of water in the early season, except for the crappies that are in shallower water near a bay.
Frisch said some of the species are predictable in this early season.
“The crappies and bluegills typically move up to spawning and can be in the same kind of location year after year,” Frisch said. “Everybody also wants the walleye bite, of course, and that should be better by Memorial Day weekend. This is the time that people should be out on the water because you can catch a pretty good amount of species.”
Frisch and Brinkman expect conditions to be better on Memorial Day weekend.
“I would expect Memorial Day to be much better than the opener, even regardless of weather, because it just gives people another couple of weeks to get all their stuff ready,” Brinkman said. “I think most people are kind of going to treat Memorial Day weekend as their fishing opener in terms of getting up to the cabin and having everything ready just because of the way to the winter kind of clung on.”
“I think the bite is going to be a little bit more spread out in terms of there’s going to be more lakes giving up fish,” Frisch said. “I think there’s going to be more consistent bite. Some of the fish that I’ve been fishing for have two-to-three feet, and some of them have been 4-to-8 feet deep. Some of those fish are going to slide out to that break line and get a little more predictable. I think Memorial Day is going to be lights out around the Alexandria area. I encourage people to get out there. Fishing is great in Minnesota. I saw a lot of people out there this weekend, and I encourage them to stick with it. There’s a lot going on in the world that maybe isn’t so good, but fishing is still there. It’s a great way to pass the time and to be outdoors with the people we like being around.”