Editorial Approach to Fishing in Minnesota – Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD – Minnesota fishing opens up on the state once again as fishermen put their ice huts away and begin mixing up two-cycle boat gas as the industry prepares for another busy year.

Fishermen looking to grab a light gray trophy on Saturday, May 14, may go on some long days this year as they scavenge old hotspots, looking for those early-season bites.

With the lakes finally moving to open water, Sherry Wiktor, owner of S&W Bait by North Long Lake, is looking forward to one of her busiest days of the season, her Minnesota fishing editorial.

S&W Bait will be open 41 hours for opening day, from 5 a.m. on Friday May 13 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and back to normal business hours on Sunday.

Speaking of this year’s bait predictions Wednesday, May 11, 2022, S&W Bait owner Sherry Wiktor and her favorite Poppy employee look forward to the fishing opening.
Tim Spear / Brainerd Dispatch

“I think we’ll be busy and I think crappie will really bite,” Wicktor said. “You know, nice weather is actually expected other than this rain here and there. But the eyes, it will be in (the) shallows.”

Marc Bacigalupi, the Brainerd District Fisheries Supervisor at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, approved a good crappie bite this weekend, but said a warm-up would help with the bite. The fish would be more active and feeding if the water temperatures were in the 50s instead of the 40s.

“It was a late spring,” said Basigalupi. “So people who catch fish eye may be lighter in color at post-breeding sites in areas with current, and the side of the lake may be a little warmer.”

Ready to open with plenty of bait, Jason Bahr, owner of Tutt’s Bait & Tackle in Garrison’s Mille Lacs Lake, is concerned about maintaining his supply of leeches at an affordable price. Tutt’s Bait & Tackle will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sunday, it will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will return to normal business hours on Monday.

“Now, everything is fine. The spots have been going well and we will have a lot of shine, but now the worry is the leeches.” It might be hard to get into the leeches, and therefore, if that happens, the leeches will become expensive, Unfortunately. But right now that’s the only thing we’ve heard that can be kind of a challenge.”

Although bait stores are supplied by different distributors, they also depend on the water temperatures for the thickness of the bait. A late spring start resupplies the bait again as water temperatures begin to rise.

Wicktor said she likes to get a good amount of bait about a week before opening because she has a few clients who get their bait early because they’re going to travel to go fishing. They usually have about 300 to 400 pounds of leeches before opening, but they are currently sitting on 30 pounds.

A hand full of leeches

Sherry Wiktor, owner of S&W Bait, talks about supplying leeches this year Wednesday, May 11, 2022, as she prepares to open the hunt.
Tim Spear / Brainerd Dispatch

“I see guys every day with something, but I’m not happy yet,” Wicktor said, adding that she was concerned about the amount of bait coming into her store.

Besides anticipating some difficulties in catching walleye, Colonel Rod Smith, director of the DNR app, said there could be an increase in people in the lakes this year because a lot of people haven’t had the chance to try their boats or anything, so they can It ends up being slightly off when landing.

Smith said allowing enough time to delay is always a good plan for opening weekends. With varying degrees of skill when it comes to supporting boats and boat trailers to access the water, patience is key as access to the lake is limited.

“Safety is always in season, and so with the fishing opener we hope that people will take some time and prepare before they hit the water,” Smith said. “This means going and checking your equipment on your boat before you get on the water.”

In Lake Mille Lacs, there are concerns about the number of fishermen who may visit the area with additional restrictions.

For Terry Thurmer, owner of Terry’s Boat Harbor on Mille Lacs Lake in Garrison, the past few years have seen a decrease in the number of people around the lake due to walleye restrictions.

Terry’s Boat Harbor will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, returning to normal business hours on Monday.

“The inability to keep fish in the summer at Mille Lacs has been devastating to this business,” Thurmer said of the area.

An open water light gray border on Mille Lacs, including all tributaries from the mouth to the top of its posted border, has a possession limit of one light gray, and every light gray shorter than 21 inches or longer than 23 inches must be released immediately, Except for one light gray 28 inches or more, Saturday through May 31.

Bahr said that the number of fish one can keep has changed over the years, and he talks about growing up fishing with his grandfather, although the change in the way things are done may not always be negative.

“When I went fishing with my grandfather, I would catch a fish, it was in the bucket, whatever happened,” said Bahr. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 4 inches tall or if it’s 40 inches tall, we keep it. These guys and girls are totally all about catch and release. They want to go out and take a light gray snapshot for their Instagram or Snapchat and then guess what. Gray eye pastel – back (in the water). So I’m not too concerned about it.”

With restrictions likely to change from lake to lake and the threat of invasive species, DNR recommends the LakeFinder app, which contains everything from vegetation reports to fishing regulations for most Minnesota lakes.

Smith wanted to remind anglers to get their new 2022-23 hunting license and carry it with them, which is now easier with cell phones.

“People can also buy it right off their phone and then store it on their phone electronically…Most people always carry their phone,” Smith said.

With all the advances in technology to help fishermen out into the water, DNR Invasive Aquatic Species Unit Supervisor Heidi Wald reminded those planning to enjoy Minnesota waters to take five minutes to help stop the spread of invasive aquatic species.

“Clean, dry, dispose, then wash and dry” your boat before leaving the lake, Wolf said, referring to Minnesota’s drain plug law.

“Drain things like bait buckets and any kind of equipment where the water is kept,” Wolf said. “If they can do that, that’s for the best, then get rid of any unwanted bait in the trash.”

For those looking for something different, Bacigalupi said the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area will stock trout and don’t forget the Mississippi River and Crow Wing River, which “here, can have some really good spots early in the season.”

Mille Lacs Lake 2022 restrictions

  • light gray

    • From 14 to 31 May:

      • The holding limit is 1.
      • All eye colors less than 21 inches or longer than 23 inches must be released immediately, except for one eye 28 inches or longer.
    • 1 – 30 June:

      • All light gray eyes should be released immediately.
    • From 1 to 15 July:

      • Viceroy fishing has been closed.
      • Walleye may not be targeted.
    • July 16 – August. 31:

      • All light gray eyes should be released immediately.
    • September. 1 november. 30:

      • The holding limit is 1.
      • All eye colors that are less than 21 inches or longer than 23 inches must be released immediately, except for one eye that is 28 inches or longer.
  • Northern pike: For hook and throw, everything over 30 inches should be released immediately. Limit three from Saturday, May 14, through Friday, March 31, 2023. Spear season coincides with spear season statewide.
  • Smallmouth and largemouth bass: All bass over 17 inches must be released immediately during harvest. Reducing three in combination. Hunting seasons track hunting seasons statewide.
  • night shutdown

    • May 16 – June 3: No fishing of any kind from 10 pm to 6 am
    • June 4 – August. 31: From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., fishing is not permitted. See exceptions.
    • September. 1 november. 30: From midnight to 6 am, no fishing is allowed. See exceptions.
    • Exemptions:

      • Muskling and northern pike: As of June 4, these species may be targeted with artificial baits longer than 8 inches or smaller than 8 inches. While hunting during the nocturnal closure, people may not possess or target any species other than the musklung or northern pike.
      • Bow fishing for fish that are not used in fishing: People may not own fishing gear while bow fishing and possession may only be for fish that are not used for fishing.
  • Taste restrictions

    • From 1 to 15 July: Anglers targeting northern pike and musselling can use small pieces longer than 8 inches. But fishermen who target all other fish species may not use live, dead, or preserved fish, parts of minnows, nocturnal reptiles, worms, leeches, or crayfish.

Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

TIM SPEIER, Staff Writer, can be reached on Twitter

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