Tactics for fishing opener 2012

by Steve Carney
Contributing columnist

Things looked pretty ahead-of-schedule there for a while – record-setting temperatures in March and plus the early ice out made things appear we were headed into a very warm and mild spring. As expected, Mother Nature decided to make some adjustments and now it looks like things are basically normal as far as water temperatures and the walleye spawn is concerned.

It always pays to have backup lake choices in mind in case your first choice isn’t panning out.
It always pays to have backup lake choices in mind in case your first choice isn’t panning out.

My gut still tells me things might be slightly different on our inland opener which is just around the corner so the modern angler needs to keep his/her options open as we look forward to a great fishing weekend.

Here are some insights into opener 2012:

Shallow lakes versus deep lakes

I am still not sure if the early ice out has affected the status of the spawn or not. Because I am not 100 percent sure about the timing of the spawn because of the fickle spring weather, I am advising anglers to stick to shallow, dark colored lakes for the inland walleye opener versus the deep, clear lakes of the north.

Shallow lakes tend to warm up faster and it’s also easier to find walleyes in shallow lakes versus the deeper waters over 30 feet.

In other words, it’s less water for the fish to be hiding and shallow water increases your odds of finding them sooner.

Good recommendations for shallow lakes would be Bowstring near Deer River, Prairie Lake near Duluth and Lake Emily near Morris. These are very reliable opening weekend choices that have proven awesome in the past.

Night fishing critical

Although I am not a fan of fishing after dark, early May is often a great time to tough it out after dark.

Walleyes at this time of the spring have a tendency to get active at sundown and especially on lakes that will experience a lot of opening weekend boat traffic. The sudden influx of boats and human activity can shut things down.

The exception would be at night when a well placed lighted bobber and leech can do magical things after the sun goes down. Many anglers will have retired by then leaving the hardy after dark crowds to fish the walleyes all by themselves.

I always make sure I get on my spot at least an hour before dark and get anchored and ready. Getting to a spot after dark really complicates the efficiency of the boater to get anchored on the proper spot. It is much easier to see what you are doing in daylight and to get exactly on the rockpike, break or flat prior to the hot bite. Once situated you can get rigged and ready for the action after dark with time to spare.

Additional lake

I will decide on Thursday prior to the Saturday opener on where I will be fishing. The decision to wait until the last minute allows me to get a good feel of the weather conditions and the status of any fronts and more importantly the outlook for the winds.

This last minute decision has allowed me to have very successful openers by heading to the lakes with the best odds. Many times my initial lake choice has been slow making me switch to other choices in the same county.

Always have backup lakes in mind when heading out for the opener.

On my radar screen at the current moment is Lake Emily near Morris.

This lake was on fire last opener and attracted a big crowd. Still worth it as it is loaded with nice, eater size walleyes.

I opened on Lake Traverse near Wheaton last season and hammered the walleyes as one of a handful of boats on the entire lake.

If you want big walleyes and privacy on the opener, Traverse is the ticket.

Six Mile Lake near Bena is also a good choice as this out of the way fishery has great crappies and decent walleye fishing. This lake is often overlooked for the more popular choices such as Leech and Winnibigishish.

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.