Waters in Otter Tail Lakes Country warming up fast
By Ross Hagemeister, Meister Guide Service
It’s been HOT in Otter Tail Lakes Country and the water is warming quickly. The Memorial Day weekend just came to a close but I kept forgetting that it wasn’t the 4th of July—crazy weather.
What do the fish think of it? Nothing—they don’t think, they just do. It’s been a bit trickier to pattern fish the past few days (including sunfish, crappie, northern pike and walleye), because everything is warming so rapidly but it’s still not summer (even though we think it is!?!?). Admittedly, I’ve even been trying things that I probably shouldn’t try for another couple of weeks, but my brain and guts tell me I need to be progressive, just like the weather and waters. Besides, there’s no harm in trying. But, as it’s turned out, the fish and the lakes aren’t quite ready for summer patterning yet, even though I’m seeing a lot of water temperatures in the upper 60’s and low 70’s. People are tubing and skiing and swimming all around Otter Tail County! What the? Despite, what we think and feel above the surface, remember fish are still controlled by physiological needs (spawning and the instinctive awareness of the reproductive cycles of other lake critters).
That being said, slow down and remember that it’s still May—not late June or July. While I am beginning to see walleye biting on night crawlers and leeches, they still want shiner minnows, predominantly. But it is the time of the season when you’ll want to bring at least 2 or 3 different live bait options. Walleyes on the same body of water will want different baits in different locations. The shiner minnow spawn in is full swing, and I imagine by the end of the week we won’t be seeing as many by docks, rivers (current), and landings because their spawn will be waning. In the meanwhile, walleye and northern and other fish like rock bass and perch will loom around shiners spawning areas—the shallows. Until the shiners quit spawning, you won’t find many predator species on the deep weed line. Sunfish are beginning to find their way into the shallows to spawn and crappie are nearing the end of their spawn on many lakes. If you find some large colorful bluegill, please release them because they are the “bull” sunfish who guard the nest, and we need those bulls in the lakes to insure good sunfish fishing for years to come.
Good luck fishing this week in Otter Tail Lakes country.
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