Finally open water in Otter Tail Lakes Country
By Ross Hagemeister, meisterguideservice.com
Holy cow! What the? Where did all that ice go? It’s nearly impossible to believe what has happened in lakes country in the past 10 days! Basically, Otter Tail Lake (Otter Tail County’s largest water body) had 35 inches of hard ice 2 weeks ago—and now it’s nearly gone. One more big-wind day, and most of the ice will be on the beach. In the spring—every year—getting the ice off of the lakes is the first major step to setting our Summer season in motion. The ice has come off of most small and mid-class lakes in the county so just like that, it’s time to fish from banks and boats! What do the fish think about ice-off?
Within a few days of ice out, crappie and sunfish respond to warming waters and can be found along shallow shorelines and in shallow bays with dark bottoms, especially if the sun has been out. The first panfish migration into shallow water is often confused with spawning. While there may be somewhat of a “staging” affect going on, the urge to be shallow is geared towards warming and feeding—they are not bedding. Walleye, on the other hand, are in the process of spawning as the ice recedes. In fact, they were already migrating to spawning areas while the lakes were still ice covered. Walleye anglers want/need walleye to be over the spawn by the time walleye opener begins, because hopefully some walleye might be willing to feed again.
Either way you put it, this is a big week in Otter Tail County! It’s time to get back on track– get the boat out and make sure the engine runs, install a new graph, and put some new line on your fishing reels and get to the store and buy some new tackle to try! It’s the celebration of ice out—enjoy getting ready this week!