Weather can’t dampen spirits for 2018 opener

Rusty Jackels reels in a crappie at the Currie dam at the Des Moines River headwaters Saturday.

By Per Peterson

It was almost as if anglers had higher expectations for the weather than they did for the fish on Saturday’s 2018 Minnesota Fishing Opener.

On a chilly, windy and sometimes wet Saturday, area anglers armed with cautious optimism hit the cold lakes — lakes that still had ice on them as of three weeks ago.

Mark and Jim Onken, both graduates of Tracy Area High School, each found some comfortable rocks to sit on along Valhalla Road, right next to a culvert.

“Pretty slow,” Mark said. “On Monday they were catching walleyes on the dike all day; one of them was a 22- 23-incher. They said, ‘Yah, it’s a little bit early,’ and they released them of course. I think the weather is keeping people away.”

The Onkens had caught three bullheads by 8 a.m. Actually, it was Jim who pulled those in.

“I ain’t even got a bite yet,” Mark said. “We’ll take walleyes or crappies.”

A bit farther east, Keith Downing of Minneota was having a bit more success with desirable fish, as he had one crappie in his pail and soon after pulled another one out of Shetek.

“I don’t know a whole lot about fishing; figured I should get out and do something and since it’s the Opener, I came out here,” Downing said. “I’ve never fished here.”

Over on Lake Yankton, Jordan Hively of Balaton was enjoying a little bit better luck but not much fishing with his son, Weston, off the bridge.

“Not much action,” Jordan said. “But you can’t catch ‘em sitting at home. We were catching fish earlier in the week, but the weather isn’t really cooperating today. I’d like it to warm up a little bit. Plus, I don’t know if the walleyes have even spawned yet — water’s not warm enough yet. The crappies haven’t. I caught a few of them and they all had eggs in them.”

Jordan was hoping Weston could get something on his line.

“He likes fishing,” Jordan said. “Last fall we got into a lot of the walleyes and we got a 30-inch northern here when he was with me, so he just loves it now. When you catch fish, he sees the reward of being patient.”

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.