Fishing opener successful in Otter Tail Lakes Country 

Fishing opener successful in Otter Tail Lakes Country 

By Ross Hagemeister,

Walleye season has arrived in Otter Tail Lakes Country—and it feels great. While the walleye fishing (on most lakes) seemed to be challenging for most anglers, folks really enjoyed the weather and being back on the lakes again.

Photo by Ross Hagemeister Here’s a shot of myself with an Opener morning walleye. It was a lot of fun walleye fishing again! The weather was perfectly perfect—the sun stayed under the clouds most of the morning and the wind stayed away (thank you wind!).

Lake shiners were in high-demand, and if folks had them they worked, but ultimately they were difficult to find. Water temps are in a very good spot. The lakes will see rapid changes this week—the shiners will push hard to complete their spawn before the water gets too warm.  What does that mean for anglers?

First and foremost, it means that shiners will become available to bait dealers and anglers and that’ll be a be relief!  It also means that walleye (and other game fish species), will following the shiners where ever they go. For the most part, they’ll be tucked into shallow water on all of our larger shiner minnow producing lakes in the county. The best methods for catching shallow walleye are wading from shorelines and river edges and casting out to the fish (you can stand on the bank too). If you approach shallow water walleye with your boat, be slow and quiet or they may spook.  If you do it right, they usually stay within casting distance of your watercraft.  Cast with small jigs tipped with shiners minnows or cast slip bobbers tipped with shiner minnows or leeches. Panfishing has been very strange. Common shallow water panfishing locations have had such a rapid warm up that the sunfish and crappie are nearly absent from those areas—bays in particular.  I’ve never seen water temps near 70 degrees in the middle of May, and the panfish don’t care for it.  Why?  By now panfish (crappie in particular) and large mouth bass begin staging for their spawn and when they find the right water temp and the proper bottom for nest building they hang around and begin the spawn.

As it has turned out this year, many areas that are normally suitable for crappie spawning, have become too warm, so the crappie have seemingly passed those areas by. Sunfish can be found lingering in and around areas that have become too warm for spawning crappie so there is decent bluegill action to be had in lake bays. Casting small 1/32 once jigs tipped with Gulp Fry or twister tails or tubes is a great approach for panfish.  Casting floats and small panfish lures and baits and dragging  them through cover and near docks and lifts is always a good bet, but when the water temps approach 60 degrees on the main lake, I like to cast small jigs—the fish don’t mind chasing when the water is warm.  In fact, chasing a retrieved lure gets more bites and it covers more water. I turn to bobbers/floats when I’m fishing in trees and stumps and other thick “snag” hazards. The float keeps the lure in the strike zone longer without getting hung up on junk.

All being said, it’s fishing time in Otter Tail Lakes Country. Get your fishing rod, grab some bait and tackle, and head to the lake because it’s fishing season!  Good Luck on the lakes this week!