The water temps are standing steady at around 52–54 degrees on the lake in Otter Tail County. Man those dang cold temps have, at best, stalled forward progress. The shiner spawn has ceased. Any bug hatches that were beginning have gone on the back-burner. Everything in Otter Tail Country is waiting and hoping for warmer weather and warming waters. How’s fishing? Walleye fishing is good when it’s good but goes south quickly depending on weather patterns. Once we have another 3 to 4 day warm up, things will really start to stay more consistent. I’m actually physically tired from changing rods and baits and leaders and colors. I rotate through jigs, Lindy Rigs, and bottom bouncer sets 3 or 4 times in a half day fishing trip. For an hour or two nothing seems to work, and then 3 hours later, we hit it and the fishing is good and the walleye jump in. This is May fishing; consistently inconsistent. Once the water temps rise just a couple more degrees—things will really begin to adjust and flow—patterning walleye will be a lot easier. As for panfish, many have retreated from the shoreline areas they were using a week or two ago. Any fishing species that seeks its business along the shorelines get the boot when the water temps cool. We caught crappie today further from shore, and the sun fish were sparse. Two days of good sun and over night lows above 40 and the shallows will be full of life again. Even though the water temps haven’t been agreeable for easy panfishing, you can still use Gulp-type baits and get good action. You no longer have to use a bobber and go slow and careful. As long as your cast is close, the fish will come to your bait. Bobbers are optional. I like to use 1/32 oz jigs tipped with a rubber bait and jig them slowly along bull rush clumps. Over all, as the fishing goes now, have a lot of tackle and options handy. When spring water temps sit in the low 50’s, you’ll have to chase and check and run and try and go some more and try again. When you find a bite in Otter Tail County right now, it’s very good. If not, you just have to work through the slow. It is, after all, why they call it fishing. Good luck on the water.
Ross Hagemeister, Meister Guide Service
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