Outdoors column: Late Ice-Out choices for fishing opener

Recently I have been spending some time reviewing ice out dates for the entire state of Minnesota and I must say we could set a new record here for one of the latest recorded ice out dates in history.

Fishing Opener 2013 will require some extra thought as the late ice departure will most certainly affect fishing success.
Fishing Opener 2013 will require some extra thought as the late ice departure will most certainly affect fishing success. Submitted Photo

As this Spring from Hades continues, today’s modern angler must put some thought into researching the best lakes in the state for the opener keeping in mind the late ice out will have a huge affect on angler success.

This might be the year to forego the traditional lake and make plans to try something different.  Here are some choices that have worked for me in the past especially during Springs with late ice outs.

Rainy River

This river as it dumps into massive Lake of the Woods will no doubt be “on fire” this inland opener as many of the walleyes will still be in the river instead of being dispersed like they would be in normal Springs.

Fishing was excellent there recently before the April 14 close and if you are in the mood for a roadtrip, the Rainy would be a great option. I have done very well there by putting in near the airport access and fishing the more obscure parts well away from Birchdale and Clementson.

Here you have a chance at a true trophy walleye as well as great numbers.

Southern Minnesota

This will be year of success in southern Minnesota and mediocre results up north, again because of the late ice out. Lakes such as Albert Lea Lake right along I35 is loaded with walleyes and gets very little press. Lakes along the same corridor such as Shields, Roberds and French are excellent choices on the inland opener. These lakes tend to warm quicker because of their shallowness and always have a good fishing window from opener to around the end of June. The fish are easy to target because these lakes are shallow and the walleyes don’t have the deep water to retreat too and are almost always in the depths of 4 to 8 feet most of the time.

Western Minnesota

I would seriously consider far western Minnesota as long as you stay well below the I94 corridor as again everything north of the interstate could still have ice on the lakes. Many of the smaller farm style lakes that feature acreages of 800 to 1500 acres should be viable choices. One of the advantages to the far western farm lakes is you have the ability to move around with many choices often within a few miles of eachother. If the first lake doesn’t pan out you have other options close by.

St. Croix River

This is always a popular choice for those fisherpeople on the eastern side of town and is usually a good choice even during late ice. The big question will be the runoff and current levels as we approach the inland opener meaning I wouldn’t commit to the Croix until you have the very latest reports on current and levels. If things are close to normal on the river levels around mid May, I would highly recommend this as a good choice.

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.