Ice just out on lakes made for a cold opener

By Bill Bartusek

Cool weather greeted anglers Saturday as they headed out for the 2008 Minnesota walleye opener. That's really not that unusual, as openers are generally pretty cool. The real issue was the cold water and even remnants of ice still left over from last winter. Water, especially up north, was about as cold as it has been over the last 10 years. In many cases, ice had just gone out last week... or just days before anglers hit the lakes. The hard part was to decide what mode walleyes were in - pre-spawn, spawn or post-spawn?

In deeper lakes that were very cold, the walleyes were pre-spawn. In average waters, they were still spawning. Here in the south they were post-spawn. In lakes where they were post-spawn, they bit and were catchable. Pre-spawn fish could also be caught.

However, spawning fish are almost impossible to catch as they avoid eating during this period. Reports vary around the state as far as fishing successes went. In some areas, fishing was great; in others, it was poor.

Our opener at the lake was very poor. The weather wasn't bad - cloudy and about 50 degrees. That meant the walleyes were spawning. We hit all the areas where we had caught fish in the past five years. Then we hit new areas. We fished shallow and then very deep. No matter what we tried we couldn't catch a single walleye. We finally gave up on walleye fishing and went after northern pike. We found them shallow and very willing to bite.

As the afternoon progressed, the wind and rain came. With that came falling temperatures, and finally the rain changed to snow. It turned out to be one of toughest openers I had ever had. It can't help but get better in the next few weeks.

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