Outdoors column: There is a silver lining for anglers after harsh winter

The word is we’ve got a lot of lakes that have been snuffed out by the long tough winter.

Ice and snow came early which shuts off sunlight and restricts oxygen production and the shallower lakes and ponds that are prone to freezing out are likely to be dead.

The author believes the chances for catching nice walleyes like this have never been better.
The author believes the chances for catching nice walleyes like this have never been better.Submitted photo

Unfortunately it happens and has been some years since we’ve had a killer like this one.

There is some good news in it though, especially if you’re a walleye fisherman.

Without a killing winter the DNR stocking ponds can carry fish over from year to year which then reach an undesirable size (at least when it comes to stocking) and gobble up fry and limit the amount that can make it to a preferred size.

A ratio of about forty to the pound is ideal because the fish have reached a size where they are most likely to survive.

Higher numbers mean more mortality though and lower means fewer fish get stocked, at least for the most part.  DNR biologists try to make up for fewer numbers by stocking more fish but it comes at cost and is a real problem given the current conditions of higher operating costs and tighter budgets.

It’s also why it’s a good idea to buy a voluntary walleye stamp with the proceeds dedicated towards purchasing and stocking more walleyes.

Honestly; the state of walleye fishing is pretty darn good right now and on some lakes it has never been better.

It’s not all rosy but overall there are a lot of nice sized walleyes to be caught in a lot of different lakes throughout Minnesota.

The ones that seem to benefit the most are those that have some natural reproduction but not enough to produce quality fishing or keep up with the pressure.

Gull comes to mind, so does Bowstring, even Minnetonka which was a well-kept secret for the longest time, and that’s just to name a few.  There are plenty of options and you’re chances of finding and catching at least a few nice sized walleyes are really good right now.

If there is a down side to a lake full of walleyes is a serious reduction of the perch population and is a concern.

The numbers show that perch have suffered in recent years and there is no doubt that walleyes have has something to do with it as they definitely make a living chasing and consuming yellow perch.

So do northern pike which have more protected slots these days which has resulted in bigger fish being caught but they eat their share too and there is only so much of the perch pie to go around.   It’s all a balancing act and likely to be tweaked by the DNR which really does want the same thing we do – a better overall fishing experience.  See you on the water.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.