Weather Forecast


Fourth will allow anglers to be more creative on busy lakes

The area lakes will heighten in activity over the Fourth of July. Whether you ski, tube, sail, paddle, swim or fish, everyone will have a wonderful weekend if you remember to stay safe and practice courtesy. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

The Fourth of July weekend is typically filled with excitement and activity. Our local lakes sprout anglers, pleasure boaters, jet skis, sailboats, tubes, wakeboards, scuba divers, waterskiers and swimmers.

In essence, everyone needs to share the limited aquatic space.

Yet the Park Rapids area lakes don't get as crowded as one might think; at least during certain times that is.

You sometimes hear anglers grumble, "there was a jet ski buzzing around me," or "there was just too much activity, it was scaring the fish." Although those excuses may seem to put anglers at ease regarding their sub-par success, there are ways to maximize your angling productivity while still enjoying the Fourth of July recreational fun.

The greatest bit of advice; go fishing early.

During the early morning hours when it's light but even before the sun peeks above the towering pines, boat traffic is at a low point. You won't need to jockey for position on the sandbars or contend for a place in line at the public access.

Not only will you enjoy the serenity of a peaceful atmosphere, you'll experience some great fishing too.

You see, since the lakes in the Park Rapids area are relatively clear, fish rely heavily upon their sense of sight.

Even though many fish species feed periodically throughout the night, it's much more difficult for them to locate forage without the aid of some ambient light. So once morning arrives and the fish can see once again, they begin to feed; sometimes quite heavily.

Another peak time to fish while simultaneously avoiding the boat traffic on the lakes is to go fishing in sub-prime boating weather.

Of course everyone needs to think logically about this and not go out in such poor conditions that the anglers are put at risk of injury. Certainly cloudy, cool or rainy days are a few situations that deter a larger number of people from heading to the lake.

Yet the first crack of thunder or streak of lightning should send you to the shoreline. Those conditions are simply too dangerous and no fish is worth the risk.

A final way to beat the crowds on the lakes over the Fourth is to "duck-out." Head to small, hidden bays to try your luck for some panfish or bass (you won't typically find a walleye in a shallow back bay during this time of the year), fish some out of the way regions of the lake that aren't experiencing high boating activity, or better yet, load up your boat, canoe or paddleboat and explore a smaller area lake.

Some of those ponds only have walk-in accesses, which doesn't necessarily mean you have to trudge several miles thorough the woods to find the lake, but that you simply have to carry your boat a few feet due to the lack of a concrete or gently sloping earth ramp.

As you encounter other boaters this weekend, remember that the lakes are here for everyone to use and just a little courtesy and common sense mean a lot.