Spawning has begun to wrap up on local lakes

By Chad Koenen


There may be no bigger high than pulling a large fish during the annual fishing opener weekend in Minnesota—other than, of course, the birth of a child or getting married. 

After a near record ice out in March, area fishing guides and fishermen have been chomping at the bit to head back out on a Minnesota lake for the chance to catch an elusive walleye. Of course with more than 1,000 lakes in Otter Tail County alone, fishing opener weekend is something of a holiday around the area as thousands of people will head out onto one of the area lakes rain, snow or shine.

The good news for area fishermen is there will be fish to be caught after an early ice out and warming temperatures in the lake.

“The good news is the walleye spawn is done and we are ice free,” said Todd Cameron of PT Guide Service. “We are past the spawn now and they should be in the break line.”

Ross Hagemeister, of Meister Guide Service, said the cooler weather of late has been a blessing for fish to prevent an early spawn, which could have had an adverse affect on the fish population.

“It’s time definitely and a month ago, six weeks ago my predictions would have been an early shiner spawn, an early walleye spawn and almost premature walleye spawn,” he said. “The cold weather has helped to hold off on the spawn a bit.”

Since the fish have already completed much of their spawning, Hagemeister said there is a good chance the fish will be feeding this year and there will be ample opportunity if the weather holds on to enjoy some early season fishing in the Otter Tail County area. 

“As an angler for the opening time frame it is the best to get the walleye spawned out, and they are more likely to feed. It just kind of gets the whole fishing season going,” said Hagemeister. “So we are at least going to have a chance at feeding fish this year, instead of snagging them in the tail.”

Cameron said for most people, “the best spot you are fishing and you love to fish is the one where you are catching fish.” That being said, the longtime guide said people shouldn’t be afraid to move from one spot to the next this spring as the water temperatures are still heating up and the fish are moving from one part of the lake to the next.

Cameron said the live bait of choice still remains as the spot tail shiner in 6-12 feet of water. He said the fish will likely be pockets of fish on inside breaks. 

Another positive this year is the accessibility of bait. Over the past several years the shiner spawn has been difficult and fishermen have been forced to get creative, as opposed to rely on the old trusty shiner bait. 

“At least there is going to be some bait available somewhere,” said Hagemeister.

While many people will head out on the lake this weekend for the opening of walleye season, others who would prefer to fish for pan fish will also likely find some luck. 

Jesse Thalmann, of Thalmann’s Guide Service, said the water temperatures are approaching 50 degrees and the pan fish bite is really heating up on the Otter Tail County area lakes. 

“The pan fish is going good. We are just throwing bobbers in shallow bays, using night crawlers and leeches,” he said. 

Thalmann said the fishing season is only about a week ahead of schedule bite wise, but with a few warmer days on the fishing should really be heating up by the weekend.