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About Fishing: 2016 fishing season in review

How was your 2016 fishing season? Fair? Inconsistent? Average? A lot of factors contributed to success, or lack of. A Spring bite on walleyes was short, the midsummer bite for walleyes never really got going. Fall came around, area lakes Potato and Fish Hook always produced consistent fall action on walleyes in the past. This season, a good bite that happened but short in duration. Long, a lake known as a go to lake for fall walleyes, produced outstanding October fishing success.

Bass anglers enjoyed fishing action at the start, culminating in the fall with an abundance of "rod bending Big Sand smallmouth bass." Mantrap was a star for northern pike and muskies with reports of muskies caught and released in the 40 inch to 50 inch length range.

Crappie action, better if compared to other years. Factors for the success, a early spring. Well developed summer weed lines. A early fall steady cooling of water temperatures positioned the crappies outside the weeds suspended over the main lake basin areas making them easy targets.

An abundance of summer bait fish and well developed weed line afforded walleyes plenty to eat then places to hide from anglers. A walleye angler not willing to prowl inside deep weedy areas for walleyes generally came home empty. A hot calm summer put some prime walleyes waters to near oxygen depletion, leading to a concern for a possibility of a fish die off. Fortunately, this condition certain to have a negative impact on early fall walleye fishing success did not occur.

Ice conditions currently are in the fair category. Thickness ranges from 6 inches to 10 inches. Angling success has been varied across the region. Making the situation worse, there was flooding on a number of popular winter fishing lakes. Red Lake, a popular destination for area anglers, finds safe ice late in forming. Persistent winds of the fall caused the water to become cloudy and murky, delaying a good bite for walleyes with reports the last week greatly improved.

Wheel houses as of midweek are not being allowed out on Red Lake. Snowmobile, foot and four wheelers now the only mode of recommended transportation on Red Lake. On Fish Hook, a popular winter fishing lake, anglers reported brisk early ice angling action on walleyes. There are reports of Fish Hook flooding conditions at the access and some areas on the main lake that have snow build up. To be safe, some anglers are contemplating pulling houses off area lakes and waiting for colder temperatures to thicken ice conditions. Always, check with local bait and sporting goods shops for the latest information on current ice conditions.

Area sport fisherman are fortunate to have the variety of fishing opportunities the Park Rapids area lakes offer. Anglers in our region have good reason to be optimistic for the 2017 fishing season. Healthy populations of walleye, crappie, panfish and northern pike will be waiting for their lures in 2017. Happy New Year.