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Picture perfect fishing opener

Whether they were catching fish or not, most people who made it out on the lake this weekend said they couldn’t remember an opening with two days in a row of sunny, warm weather like this one.

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Warm, sunny weather greeted anglers on fishing opener weekend. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

Neil Stock and his wife, Leigh Ann, came up from the Twin Cities to his parents’ cabin on the west side of Long Lake. They went out fishing four times over the course of the weekend, putting their boat in at the public access on the south end near Hubbard.

“I’ve fished the opener on Long Lake since 1988,” he said. “The weather was extremely nice and warm. Usually, it’s colder. I saw more people out than usual. We enjoyed fishing and having a getaway. ”

They both caught some crappies using jigs and crappie minnows in the middle and south parts of the lake.

“I was on the lake for about 10 hours during the weekend,” he said Sunday. “We’re going to have crappies tonight, pan fried with cracker crumbs, flour and egg wash. They were 10-12 inches each, so just under a pound.”

He said while people were catching fish, it was a little too early for walleye activity on Long Lake.

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“I saw a couple of walleyes being caught, but they’re not quite turned on yet,” he said. “Long is pretty much a pretty slow opening lake. Usually it’s more the third weekend in May and Memorial Day weekend that fishing is really getting good.”

Enjoying lake life

Stock said there is more to the opener than catching fish.

“It was just a beautiful weekend,” he said. “The weather was nice and there wasn’t a lot of wind so it was calm out there. The sunset was beautiful Saturday night and the sunrise Sunday morning too. The loons are out calling and mating, getting ready for summer. The painted turtles are out in the bay. We saw a couple of wood ducks in our wood duck house, so definitely spring is here.”

He said he was out a couple of weeks ago up on the north end where there is usually early crappie action. “I also raked the grass and got things opened up at the cabin so we could come back this weekend for the opener. People are back and docks and lifts are in. Some people who worked here last year because of the COVID pandemic are also now back this year.”

Timing was everything

Josh Severtson of Nevis said he didn’t make it out on the lake until Saturday afternoon.

“We caught a couple of 15- to 17-inch walleyes, also a couple bass and a couple pike on Potato Lake,” he said. “It was busy with a lot of people out. The weather was gorgeous.

“Some guys had a bit of a tough time because the sunny, no-wind conditions make the shallow fish a little more spooky. But those who went out after dark or just before the sun was up did great. Overall, most people I talked to caught something. The bass and northerns were plentiful and sunfish and crappies were in the pencil reeds. And I’d rather have the conditions we had over snow any day.”

Dennis O’Connor was one of the AIS inspectors at the Lake Belle Taine public access in Nevis. He said most of the people he talked to Saturday morning hadn’t caught much.

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“Just because it’s the opener doesn’t mean the fish are going to bite,” he said.

Ron Leyba of Bemidji spent four hours out on 11th Crow Wing Lake near Akeley with his brother-in-law John Hickson. Even though they didn’t catch anything, he said they still had fun.

“We enjoyed the beautiful day and getting the boat out,” he said.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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