Fishing report: Cool water temps, severe storm and high winds on opener challenge Alexandria-area anglers
Crappies and bluegills could be a recipe for success right now as the walleye bite gets better in the coming weeks.
ALEXANDRIA — A late ice out this spring and cooler water temperatures were already setting some anglers up in the Alexandria area for perhaps a slower opener when it comes to going after walleyes, but the severe storms that went through Douglas County last Thursday likely did not help either.
There are bound to be anglers who found success this past weekend, but those who did had to deal with some challenging weather. Calm conditions after midnight on Saturday gave way to wind gusts of nearly 45 miles-per-hour out of the west-northwest at 9 a.m.
“As much as I heard, they struggled,” Alexandria area fishing guide and Echo Press contributing fishing columnist Mike Frisch said on Monday morning of the walleye bite around Alexandria. “Shane Gesell from (Christopherson) Bait Shop is with me right now. They didn’t hear much good at all for walleyes.”
Frisch had two smaller lakes in mind that he wanted to try for walleyes on opener, but the position of the public accesses on those lakes made for waves crashing in. He switched gears and went after bass, which had its catch-and-release season open on Saturday as well.
Frisch suspects that the severe storms that came through the Alexandria area last Thursday night did have something to do with a slower bite on Saturday.
“I think it was two things. Number one, I think the water is still cold,” Frisch said. “Number two, the storm. I expected clearer water than what I saw. The water was pretty stirred up still. I think it was a combination of cold water and 80-mile-per-hour winds or whatever we had.”
Frisch feels the fishing often slows down for about 48 hours after a severe weather system moves through.
“I wouldn't say that's hard and fast, but especially this time of year. During the spring, it takes longer because you’re still battling cold water,” Frisch said. “But I think this coming week, Shane and I were just talking, and we think the crappies and the bluegills are prime right now for a good shallow bite. I still think the bigger, deeper lakes, the walleyes are still a few days away. But some of these smaller, shallower, more turbid waters, they’ll start producing later this week I would think.”
Multiple anglers in the area reported water temperatures near the surface in the mid-50s. Frisch said the warmest he saw was 57 degrees, and another angler coming off Lake Osakis on Saturday morning said water temperatures he saw ranged from 54-57 degrees.
Boats were lining up to get off Lake Osakis a little after 9 a.m. on Saturday as whitecaps crashed into the shoreline at the south access.
“The wind was pretty tough, but the ones who got out early did catch walleyes and others caught panfish too up on the north end,” Gregg Anderson of the General Store in Osakis said of the report from Lake Osakis. “I thought it was a pretty good opener. I didn’t expect it this good because of the water temperature.”
Anderson said many who bought bait were buying for both walleyes and crappies in case getting on walleyes proved to be difficult.
“The guy that works as a guide out of here, he was fishing anywhere there was water coming into the lake,” Anderson said. “We have several of them. With all that rain, it carries that debris, which attracts minnows and the bigger fish too. He started with crawlers. I said, ‘Crawlers already?’ Nobody uses crawlers right away. They use minnows, but he did quite well.”
Anderson said most of the nice fish he heard of being caught came in about 7-10 feet of water.
Both Frisch and Anderson expect the fishing to only get better with each passing day if anglers can get some stable weather to work with through the next month.
“I really think Memorial Day weekend could set up to be really good,” Frisch said. “The bigger, deeper lakes, we haven’t had ice-free conditions for that long. The further we get away from that, the warmer the water gets, the better that bite is going to go. I think by this weekend, you’re going to see a better bite, and it’s going to continue to get better the next week too. I still think the small, shallow lakes are where it’s going to be at this weekend.”