Are you wondering what kind of fishing season we are going to have this year? The water temperature at the boat launch on my favorite local lake was 37 degrees on April 21. Sleet, snow and cold were pounding me as I stood on the end of the dock on my home lake nestled on the St. Croix/Polk County line. The only things moving on the lake were a flock of giant white pelicans, lots of ducks and coots, plus some loons migrating north, hoping the ice would be off their northern lakes soon. It was cold standing on the dock at the launch. I wasn’t sure if I owned enough clothes to keep me warm on the water. I’ve winter camped in 35 below temperatures in the Boundary Waters but I’m not sure if that’s as cold as being in a fishing boat on a wet windy day just after ice out.
I was just about to get into my wife’s warm Jeep and leave when I was completely surprised to see a truck pulling a boat into the parking lot. As soon as the two anglers got out, I watched them put on multiple layers of clothes getting ready to spend time on the water in what they obviously knew was going to be a cold day in their boat. The truck had Illinois plates. They were up early to fish the St. Croix River opener. We exchanged numbers to talk later. Now after just getting off the phone with them I found out they were marking fish but not getting any to bite even on live minnows. They were encouraged by all the loons swimming around their boat though!
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My best source for fishing information is my
friend Ben Elfelt who runs Prime Time Guide Service from his home. When you get paid to get clients on fish you must be good at catching fish. Ben is. I asked him what’s going on in the water?
“I’ve been down on Pool 4 earlier and we were picking up some male walleyes that were hard to locate. I like to head down there during the full moon, but the water temperature was just 38 degrees, and nothing was happening. Then in just a few short days the water temperature rose to 46 and fish were spawning and then quickly done. Now there is no fishing because the river is at flood stage. I get worried about that because flooding is often a time walleye eggs can get silted in and an entire year class of walleye can be lost.”
I asked Ben to predict the opener. “Anytime we have a late spring like this you can count on a shallow bite.” I agree. History tells me that’s a great time to catch a lot of fish if the lakes don’t re-freeze and I know of some that already have!
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at email@example.com
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