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Warm weather opener draws anglers to local lakes

The walleye fishing season opened this weekend and anglers were greeted with warm weather throughout the Park Rapids area, making for an enjoyable opener for many on local lakes. (Submitted photo)

The 2017 Minnesota Fishing Opener was a success for many anglers on Park Rapids area lakes.

With air temperatures in the mid to upper 70s this past weekend, the weather was beautiful, which created more fishing pressure on the local lakes.

"This was one of the better openers in the last few years just because of the great weather," said Will Wicks, co-owner of Delaney's Sports Center.

"It felt a lot busier than past openers," reported Jason Durham, owner and guide at Go Fish! Guide Service, adding that the local bait shops and public accesses were all bustling with anglers anxious to get out on the lake.

In preparation for the rush to the lakes, Delaney's held special hours, staying open until 12 a.m. midnight and re-opening at 5 a.m. Saturday morning.

"We were busy up until close," Wicks said regarding the necessity of the extended hours.

Wicks also added that their fishing license sales were slightly up from last year, which he again attributed to the warmer weather.

According to Durham, the walleye fishing was good this past weekend but it wasn't great due to the switch in weather over the past few weeks which greatly influences fish behavior.

The better lakes to fish on, what the fish are biting and the water temperatures are the three most common questions that visiting anglers ask the bait store employees and local guides.

"The water temperatures vary greatly this time of year," Durham said, adding that the fishing was better on Saturday than Sunday. "The fishing was good; it was worthwhile to go out. I heard people reporting nice numbers, no mention of any monsters."

Durham added that the fish seemed to be biting best in 6 to 13 feet of water on all types of live bait, which is typical this time of year.

"Now that the walleye and northern are done spawning I would say in the next few days the fishing should get really good," he said.

According to DNR Area Fisheries Supervisor Doug Kingsley, the northern pike and walleye have been done spawning for quite awhile.

The last walleye eggs hatched on April 19 and the local DNR Fisheries office stocked the last batch on Friday prior to fishing opener on Saturday.

"We always hope to get the stocking done before opener. We were able to do it this year," Kingsley said.

Delaney's number one seller this opener were shiners, followed by red tails and leeches.

"Some people did really well, some people didn't. That's just typical fishing," Wicks joked, adding that he himself was unable to get on the water until Sunday.

According to Kingsley, the fishing was good the first couple of hours on Saturday morning but as the sun got bright later in the afternoon the fishing slowed down.

Durham said that air temperatures may be high but the water temperatures are still in the low 50s, which could still cause hypothermia. He cautions anglers to be in the practice of staying safe by using life preservers.