Seems like winter is not going away any time soon as we continue to suffer through cold temperatures and rounds of snow. This has been the winter from hell, but we need to have a positive outlook as we head into April. Because of the extended winter, anglers will need to make some adjustments as we head into the open water season. Here are some thoughts.
1. Up North
My prediction is that there will be ice on the big waters up north for the inland opener. Lakes such as Leech, Winnibigoshish, Mille Lacs, Gull and Lake of the Woods could easily still have rafts of floating ice during early May. I have seen these conditions before, and it might be wise to have a Plan B. We are still making ice as I write this, and it doesn’t look promising.
2. Southern/Western Waters
This 2018 opener will be the perfect time to think about the shallower, southern and western Minnesota lakes that typically have earlier ice-out than the northern lakes. Many of these so-called prairie lakes feature water no deeper than 20 feet and are usually very good come mid-May. I depend on these shallower lakes during the first few weeks of the open water season and have found they are a much better bet than trying to fish a deeper, northern lake during late-spring conditions.
3. South Dakota
Fishing the border lakes of South Dakota and Minnesota are a no-brainer for success during the inland opener on May 12. These lakes are shallow and have current which allows the water to warm sooner, and fishing in May there is like fishing in June up north.
The Glacial Lakes region around Waubay and Watertown are also good options. The Missouri River near Chamberlain will have walleyes in the spawning mode in May while we still have ice on the lakes.
I am planning on making a last-minute decision and heading west, deciding on the lake probably a few days before the opener. It’s all about the weather, ice-out dates and location.