Column: Opening soon on a lake near you

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 12, 2006

Dick Herfindahl, Woods and water

Here we are, just a few short days away from the Minnesota fishing opener. It’s time to give those tackle boxes one more look and make sure that we have everything we will need to fill that stringer with fish.

In all reality I am sure that a lot of us have probably done a double check by now and have already scratched many of the essentials off the list.

Before I started attending the governor’s opener, I was quite content to fish one of our many area lakes on the opener. For many years Reeds Lake was at the top of my list but then it started to get a little too congested on the opener and I opted for some other lakes. My boys still talk about the opening day luck we used to have on Reeds. It was good for walleye early on in the season and northern fishing always seemed good.

I remember one year when I made my oldest son Brian sit in the cold and wind on Lake Francis while only managing to boat a less than admirable size crappie on opening day.

What made this day even better was the long wait at the access when loading and unloading the boat. I guess all openers weren’t great, but we did have fun together anyway.

I think it was the next year that I opted to put the boat in on Fountain Lake. I thought I’d pull a fast one and fish at home when everyone else was heading out of town for the opener. I do believe we boated five nice walleye that morning and I don’t think anyone was more surprised than I was. This was at a time when not everyone was aware of the number of walleyes in the lake.

We have a lot of water available to us within our immediate area. I wouldn’t be afraid to try Fountain again on the opener. St. Olaf has some fish in it and Beaver Lake has had walleye in it for as long as I can remember.

If you drive 50 miles west there are a lot of lakes in the Fairmont area that have a nice number of walleye and northern. If going &8220;west, young man,&8221; woman or child, isn’t in the cards, then head north about 50 miles and you’ll find an abundance of lakes in the Waterville, Mankato or Faribault areas. There are many lakes there with good numbers of fish in them. The only question is which one will be the hot one on the opener? I don’t have the answer to that one but finding out can not only be a challenge but it can also be a lot of fun. With the price of gas, taking a short drive for some decent fishing seems pretty appealing.

Just remember that wherever you decide to fish on the opener, be safety conscious. Wear a life jacket, don’t overload the boat and obey the rules of the water. If you have to have alcohol do the celebrating while you are cleaning the fish not while you are trying to catch them.

Here are a few reports from lakes around the state:

BRAINERD LAKES AREA &045; The crappie fishing has been nothing short of fantastic on many of the smaller lakes in the Brainerd area. The unseasonably warm temperatures have pushed the panfish into the shallows. Key locations have been the small, shallow, backwater areas. Small boat harbors, channels and bog areas have been great locations.

Small feathered jigs, 1/64-ounce, suspended below tiny bobbers have been effective baits for both crappies and large bluegills.

MANKATO &045; Fishing remains consistent. Lake Crystal is producing crappies off the public boat landing and near the highway in the evening for those using lighted bobbers and crappie minnows with small jigs. Washington and Bakers Bay are producing crappies in 13 to 14 feet of water. Try using small jigs tipped with minnows. There are also some reports of fish caught near the Buck Masters Bridge and in Madison Lake in the evening. Sunfish and crappies are being found near the west end of Lake Francis in the early morning hours and late at night. Duck Lake is producing crappies in 13 feet of water.

RED WING &045; With the water level going down this week it has slowed fishing down. A few walleyes are being caught on the Lake City flats and backwaters; the walleyes are done spawning in the area. Crawlers, leeches, fatheads, 3-waying, jigging and Lindy rigging has been most productive.

BEMIDJI &045; Perch are going in 8 to 10 feet of water on a jig and minnow. Crappies can be found on all small lakes in the area and biting on small twister tails and crappie minnows. Upper Red Lake has some crappies being caught in front of the Tamarac River.

Last week I wrote about the Jr. Duck Stamp contest and the Deer art contest. Here are some quotes from the students about Duck Stamp and Wildlife.

DUCK STAMP

Chrissy Monson: &8220;I enjoy the Duck Stamp because you’re capable of not only showing your work but expressing your feeling about wildlife as well.&8221;

Trevor Herfindahl: &8220;I don’t draw for the prizes; I draw because I love to draw. That’s because I Love wildlife.&8221;

Josh Schwarz: &8220;I like the Duck Stamp because it reminds me of hunting. I drew a canvas back because they are my favorite duck.&8221;

&8220;Thanks, Mara Koneize.&8221; &045; Minnesota State Duck Stamp Coordinator

WILDLIFE

Amy Sanderson: &8220;I wanted to draw a picture of dogs because I have a dog. I wanted to draw something that would interest me.&8221;

Isabel Ehrhardt: &8220;I really like doing this project because I think that it is fun to learn and draw wildlife.&8221;

Until next time play safe; enjoy the outdoors and good luck on the opener. Remember to keep the troops that are serving our country in your thoughts and prayers.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears on the Outdoors Page every Friday.