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Opener was normal - inconsistent

Walleyes were the target species for most anglers statewide over Minnesota's fishing opener weekend. However, those having more consistent success searched for panfish instead of the sometimes elusive state fish. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Anglers last weekend experienced a windy welcome to the 2012 Minnesota fishing opener. Though air temperatures were delightful, controlling the boat in high winds is always a challenge.

Many people assumed fishing would be very similar to what we experience in early June. With such an early ice-out, it would be a logical hypothesis.

However, the opener turned out to be more "normal" than some people expected.

Just like most opening weekends, some people caught walleyes, some had sporadic action and others never had a bite. And just like any typical opener, plenty of anglers forgot to put their boat plug in before launching, left their bait or lunch cooler back at home or had a life jacket blow out of the boat on the way to the lake.

The inconsistency in angling success from boat to boat could easily happen on any opener and additionally during any time of the year. If everyone had unwavering fishing fruition, the walleye population would dramatically decrease.

Realize that with so many lakes in close proximity scattered about the Park Rapids area, finding consistency from lake to lake is possible, but not always probable. The right depth, baits that produce bites and critical habitat areas for locating fish aren't always the same on different bodies of water.

For instance, successful walleye anglers reported catching fish from 3 to 30 feet last weekend. As for their bait of choice, it included minnows, leeches, nightcrawlers and crankbaits (both casted and trolled).

Anglers willing to be flexible in terms of fish species also had good success. Those who switched to targeting panfish or northern pike experienced active fish and plenty of hook-sets.

Panfish were probably the most predictable fish to find and catch over the weekend.

Successful crappie anglers noted that the fish inhabited very shallow water, from 1-6 feet deep. Though some nice bluegills and crappies were found on the weedlines in slightly deeper water, shallow water was the best.

The defining factor for locating those shallow water crappies was the two "W's"; weeds and wood.

Numerous anglers commented on the interactions they had with the watercraft inspectors stationed at various public boat landings.

The new program requires boaters to have their watercraft inspected for aquatic invasive species before entering a body of water and again when leaving.

Overall the feedback was very positive, with boaters feeling like it was a team effort in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. And since the prevalence of A.I.S is expanding both state and nationwide, it will take diligence from everyone.

The watercraft inspectors were friendly, provided information on A.I.S. and many anglers got something they didn't expect; a fishing report.

Since the inspectors talk with each angler or group of anglers, they get a fairly accurate gauge of how the fishing activity is on the lake.

Yet we all know that sometimes anglers are very tight lipped and other times they flat-out lie. That alone might be the most consistent part of any Minnesota fishing opener!