Otter Tail Lakes Country water opens up just in time for opener
By Ross Hagemeister, meisterguideservice.com
Hello anglers everywhere. Otter Tail Lakes Country turned the corner this week—all of the lakes are ice free! A short month ago the probability of open water in Otter Tail County by May was very low. But mother nature gave us a ton of sun and warm and the ice fell apart.
Panfish are busy moving from their late winter locations to their springtime warm water hangouts. I’ve been on the lakes over the past week enjoying some perfect weather for some early panfishing and have found decent numbers of panfish in shallow areas but have found they are still reluctant to feed. I’m typically an advocate of casting with bobber rigs and small jigs for sunnies and crappies but the bobbers are spooking the fish—especially the crappies. We’re catching a lot more of them by casting small jigs (no bobbers) as close to the shoreline as possible and then carefully retrieving them with delicate motions. Be careful not to retrieve the baits to quickly because the fish are reluctant to do a lot of chasing right now, but don’t go so slow that your lure gets hung up on the bottom and hangs in the crud. Sunfish have been the more assertive species so far, but I have a feeling that the crappies will be speeding up very soon. Be sure and think light. When you’re casting into shallow water a heavy lure will sink out of sight quickly before the fish have a chance at it. Try Gulp fry and 1.5 inch Gulp minnows (in the jar). They are tough so you can cast them hard and they won’t fly off the hook like live bait does.
The MN walleye season is drawing near and things are looking up. Walleye will continue spawning this week and hopefully, they will get done by the weekend on most lakes. The late ice out, cold water, and delayed walleye spawn will cause some fishing woes on some lakes around the county, but there are a lot of lakes in Otter Tail County and I’m confident there will be walleye biting somewhere. Shoreline anglers and anglers fishing near current areas should have good walleye action this weekend.
Finally, remember to review your 2018 fishing regulations! And for those of you that like to keep and eat northern, be sure you look closely at the regulations that apply to northern pike—there are big changes in limits and size restrictions.
Good luck panfishing Otter Tail Lakes Country this week, and good luck next weekend on the walleye opener.