The winter of 2012-2013, will be the determining factor and focal point of many discussions that sportsmen and women will have when coming up with strategies of how to approach late season turkey hunting, and opening walleye season strategies this year.
For those Minnesota turkey hunters which drew the usually coveted first season tags to hunt long beards across the state, I feel your pain.
Weekly snow storms, without question, hampered the ability to pattern and zero in on a traditional turkey game plan.
I can’t remember a time when spring hunting turkeys consistently meant hunting in whites rather than hunting in traditional camouflage clothing.
I have hunted in spring snows before, but it seemed as though it was a single day event where by afternoon, most snow traces had melted away into a distant memory.
What this all means is that those who, like myself were not successful in the annual MnDNR turkey lottery and have to purchase a tag over the counter for the later season, also known as seasons E.F.G.H., may be buying a tag which will be in prime time this year.
You may also get a crack at unpressured birds which early season tag holders just didn’t pursue!
Usually a late season tag means budded foliage and denser understory which can make stalking the birds easier, but this year’s weather patterns are going to almost match an early season tag.
What will be interesting to me and many other hunters is to observe when the weather patterns change, how fast will the wild turkeys change their spring patterns.
Will birds try to biologically catch up to the norms of courtship and nesting, or will the record breaking late season weather and heavy snow pack across areas of the wild turkey range move the entire spring ritual back a few weeks.
Those are all questions the experts will evaluate and the answers will be quite obvious when the season ends and the final Minnesota turkey harvest numbers are tabulated.
As for opening walleye season this year, most lakes in the northern half of Minnesota, including Mille Lacs, will have the distinct possibility of having ice covering the main bodies of water. My best guess would be that the small bays and area’s which feeder streams and current area’s exist will be free of ice and available for opening day.
As for fishable ice, anything is possible this year.
Strategies for opening day walleye’s this year may be related totally to current and spawning areas.
Incoming creeks or rivers, neck down channels, and man-made structures like dams maybe the key to a successful opener.
As the ice melts this spring, pay attention to the annual DNR egg stripping operations which take place on some of the premiere walleye waters.
If the annual spring run is still in high gear at these locations,
I would venture a guess that this same pattern would be taking place throughout the state. What will be telling is if the DNR closes some of the most vulnerable locations to protect spawning walleyes.
I applaud these preventative measures, as this can lead to an over harvest which would have a long term negative effect on any local fishery.
Another wild card in this spring’s unusual weather will be the availability of certain types of bait. Red tails and creek chubs are trapped in the rivers. This may be made difficult with high snow run-off and muddy waters. Lake shiners are trapped in local lakes.
Open water and water temperature will dictate any type of minnow trapping operation.
Some minnow wholesalers will have bait in the ponds, but my best guess is that bait this spring will be spendy.
So what is a walleye angler, or a turkey hunter supposed to do on opening weekend when mother nature has been flexing her might?
Maybe a cast-and-blast weekend is in the cards, it could be an awesome adventure.
Jeff Weaver is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.