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Official suggests starting in shallow waters during fishing opener

The Land of 10,000 Lakes has high water, which means fishermen should be thinking low when the Minnesota fishing season opens at midnight Saturday morning.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes has high water, which means fishermen should be thinking low when the Minnesota fishing season opens at midnight Saturday morning.

"Start shallow in two to three feet of water and then work deeper," advices Arlen Schalekamp, area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources office in Fergus Falls.

Schalekamp says water levels in most of the lakes in Otter Tail County are very high.

"We are in a high-water cycle right now," Schalekamp said. "The fish are still going to be there, but I think they will be a little bit shallower.

"If there is a flooded shoreline and there is habitat underwater near that shoreline, the fish may be relating to that."

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So if the water is cloudy or murky, Schalekamp says start fishing in the shallows. If the water is real clear and the sun is shining, Schalekamp said anglers may then have to move to deeper water.

"But don't be afraid to start real shallow," he said.

Schalekamp, who will experience his 25th fishing opener with the DNR, said he expects a pretty good opener.

The forecast calls for temperatures reaching the 60s with partly cloudy skies and spotty rain showers.

"We're not anticipating any major cold fronts that would drop the temperature 20 or 30 degrees," Schalekamp said. "It isn't going to be real cold like last year. The water temperatures are heading up and the weather conditions appear stable."

With the walleye spawn well over, Schalekamp says angler shouldn't expect to catch a lot of female walleyes. He says angler should expect to catch smaller male walleyes in the 14- to 16-inch range.

"That's OK," he said. "There are a lot of fish like that out there."

An estimated 1 million anglers are expected to hit the Minnesota lakes for the opener.

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According to 2008 data from the American Sportfishing Association, fishing contributes $4.7 billion to Minnesota's economy. According to a 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, equipment sales contribute $1.2 billion and nearly 44,000 Minnesotans hold fishing-related jobs.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

Related Topics: FISHING
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