The Fishing Opener
By Jed Ninefeldt
As I plan for the fishing opener, I try to measure the effects of the weather to this point and for the next two. If I were a betting man, I would put a lot of money on Lake of the Woods/Rainey River for the opener. All indications are that most lakes and rivers are roughly on pace for a normal spring. One week of 70’s has been balanced by the next in the 30’s. Most sucker runs are about a half week to a full week ahead of a normal year due to slighter above normal temperatures.
What does sucker fishing have to do with the opener? Everything. Each species of fish has its own temperature of water it prefers or triggers it to spawn. Most lakes in the area have small creeks as feeders while others have rivers and some have none. Many fish will run up these creeks and rivers to spawn. Others will remain in the lake and spawn, generally starting on the north end because the water warms there first. Many fish look for water temps around 43 degrees to get things started. Fish spawn in order of rising water temps, normally following the order of: Northern/Muskie (under the ice), Walleye, Sucker, Pan Fish, Bass, and white fish (fall).
Water temperatures signal where fish are at in the spawning cycle. This indicates how close fish are to normal spawning cycles relative to previous years. After ascertaining the point fish may be at, it’s time to get ready for the opener. Brush off the cobwebs, put new line on your freshly oiled reel, and regain the feel of your full length rod again. After that, all you can hope for is good weather and the chance to get the kids out on a nice afternoon and let them practice fishing too.
The interment hot and cold weather this spring has extended spawning, boosting the odds of success on the Lake of the Woods/Rainey River. I recommend that big boats start in Four Mile Bay and just outside the gap. Meanwhile, little boats should work the river and consider working their way towards I-falls.
For those of you who want to stay closer to home, Big Winnie is good for the same reasons as Lake of the Woods. On the opener, work the Third River Flowage, and the sandy western side.
For those of you staying home, work the wind driven shoreline on local lakes for walleyes and northerns. Don’t be afraid to start in three feet of water and work deeper. I’ve seen many nice fish caught in less than five feet of water. The shallows work for the few fish that are procrastinators and the bait fish are there.