Fishermen don’t have to be skunked on opener

No matter the temperatures, the fish are there and they are hungry

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

There are lots of variables when going fishing on a normal day. But for opener of fishing, the first big day of the season for avid fishermen and women, there are even more.

The temperature of the water can vary by dozens of degrees, depending on how long the winter hung on. There may even be ice still on some lakes.

Avid fisherman Kevin Denny of Royalton said it’s not just the water temperature that can make the difference, but the weather and the water levels can affect fishing.

“There can be lots of surprises that first day out fishing,” said Denny. “It’s hard to narrow down a particular tactic.”

Denny said the basics are usually a good rule of thumb to follow.

“In the early spring, fishing shallow is a good place to start,” he said. “The water warms up quicker in the shallows, attracting the fish. The warmer water also starts plants growing sooner, feeding oxygen to the lake. And the bugs begin to lay eggs and hatch in the warmer water. All that will bring on the fish.”

April Denny loves to fish as much as her husband, Kevin. She is pictured with a nice crappie caught in an undisclosed lake.

April Denny loves to fish as much as her husband, Kevin. She is pictured with a nice crappie caught in an undisclosed lake.

Denny said that in those conditions, if an angler throws stuff at that fish, they are bound to bite.

He also said to stick with the simple stuff.

“A jig and a minnow for walleye usually works,” he said. “Use a shiner, fathead or redtail. If the water is cloudy, use brighter colors.”

Denny said the walleye will usually be found between the drop-offs, or shoreline breaks, to a 10 – 12 foot depth.

If going for crappies, Denny said to use a jig and a plastic grub.

The northern will be going after the bait fish, pan fish and crappies. They will be between the weeds and the shallows.

“The fish are usually hungry during opener. They will bite on anything,” he said. “Even casting crank baits at them will work.”

Kevin Denny, Royalton, has fished his entire life. He is on the lakes as much as possible. Here he is pictured with a nice walleye caught in Lake Mille Lacs.

Kevin Denny, Royalton, has fished his entire life. He is on the lakes as much as possible. Here he is pictured with a nice walleye caught in Lake Mille Lacs.

Plastics have come a long way. Denny said they are bright, smelly and the fish love them.

“I will be avoiding the lakes during opener,” said Denny. “I will be fishing the rivers where the fish are easier to find.”

If heading to a river opener weekend, Denny suggests looking for a break in the current, like a rock or a tree, or a backwater bay.

“Fish behind those breaks where the current is slower,” he said. “Even fishing from shore can be fun.”

Denny said the fish lie in wait in the calmer water waiting for food to float by in the current.

“Cast ahead of the area, upstream from that rock or tree. Let the bait float past the fish, naturally,” he said.

Denny also suggests feeder creeks which flow into the rivers as good spots to try opening weekend. He said the water pours into the river, bringing food.

“The fish will wait for the food to go past. I usually cast to the mouth of the creek,” he said.

Denny said he is hoping for more options for fishing than Minnesotans had last year. He said the smaller lakes and rivers thaw faster than the larger ones. If there is still ice on the bigger lakes, there will be a lot of pressure on the smaller ones.

“This opener, put as many odds in your favor as possible,” Denny said. “Use the Internet to find out the water temperatures of your favorite lake. Read the fishing posts on where fish are being caught and how. Watch amateur videos for instant information on lures, bait and areas. Put time in to learn what others are doing to have success fishing.”

Walleyes webDenny also suggested using a fish finder when angling.

“If you are not on the fish, no matter what you try, you won’t catch a thing,” he said.

Denny has been fishing his entire life. He grew up on a farm in Ottertail County and remembers trying to get out of chores to go fishing.

“My brothers are hunters. I got the fishing bug,” he said.

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