WILLMAR -- Hundreds of area anglers will be launching their boats under the cover of darkness to start the 2008 walleye and northern pike season at midnight Saturday.
A late ice-out and cool spring weather mean that water temperatures are down, and so are the expectations of many.
"Mixed results,'' said Daryl Deistman of Kandiyohi when asked how he thought anglers will do on the opener Saturday.
Deistman has been guiding anglers on the waters of Kandiyohi County since 1974, and has seen openers both good and bad.
He believes that anglers who venture out at night will have the best chances for success this weekend.
He's also worried that the bite could be slow if weather forecasts for a possible thunderstorm prove accurate.
But then, he was quick to add: "I could be wrong. You really don't know until you go out there and try it,'' he said.
Of course, that's the fun of it all.
Kandiyohi County offers lots of good early season walleye fishing opportunities.
The most popular waters on the opening weekend include Ringo, Lake Lillian, Kandiyohi, Wagonga, Norway, Long Lake north of Willmar, Games, Diamond and Green.
Elsewhere in the region the big waters of Lac qui Parle and Minnewaska lakes are sure to see lots of fishing traffic. Big Stone Lake will be busy too. And thanks to Ron Schara's annual "Deadly Dozen'' column in the Star Tribune, Big Stone County anglers will find lots of company on lesser known Artichoke and East Toqua lakes.
Meeker County will see lots of fishing this weekend too, nowhere more so than Washington Lake between Darwin and Dassel.
As for Deistman, he knows well enough to stay quiet on where he will open the 2008 season.
For those who are still undecided on where to go, the best bet is always to check with your local bait shops. While you're stocking up on bait, make sure you have your fishing license for 2008. Most important of all, wear that personal flotation device at all times on the water.