It's not the worst, but it could be better
WILLMAR -- Snow, rain, snow, snow, rain.
There doesn't seem to be much sun around.
Though for die-hard Minnesota anglers, would they expect anything less?
The recent snows of April did have an affect on walleye spawning, but there is hope the timetable won't be too slanted by the time the walleye and northern pike opener kicks off just after midnight on May 10.
"My guess is that walleye spawning is going to continue through this week, which will bring it to a week or a few days to the opener," said Bruce Gilbertson, manager of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries office in Spicer. "After all that activity, there is a short recovery period and a reluctance to actively feed. People are going to catch a higher number of males and they will be smaller. If the temperatures stay cooler, they will be a little more finicky on the bite when you are looking at walleye."
To trace the chain of cause-and-effect, start with the water temperature. When water is cold, fish are less active. Though it has warmed up enough to allow walleye to spawn, it might not be warm enough to actively feed. Gilbertson said area water temps ranged in the low 40s as of Monday, though he's not overly concerned when he looks back at historical data.
"It's not outside of the normal range if you look back over 60 years or so, but it is if you look back 15-20 years," he said. It's just a bit a throwback to what is considered the long-term normal."
He also said there was still a big sheet of ice on Green Lake Monday, which is a testament to the lower water temperatures.
Feeding is dependent on water temps. Though all fish need to eat, they might not snap at the first thing passing if its cold. The warmer the water is, the more aggressive the males -- and eventually the females -- will be.
And aggressive fish are what anglers are looking for.
A welcome by-product of the late precipitation has been increased water levels. Every little bit counts when having to deal with boat ramps and docks.
"Water levels have been relatively low coming into the spring. With this last snow, we are seeing water levels that are returning to normal than where we were," Gilbertson said. "I'm sure, depending on the soil types, the frost is out and some of this water soaked in. You may not notice the water level bounce up really quickly, but you get a discharge of water through the soils to the lake that will sustain the water levels over time."
There's one week before the season opens, so is there any hope for a good fishing opener?
"For anglers, a continued, gradual warm-up and the spawning completed is needed," Gilbertson said. "The fish will be a little more active in feeding. Any protracted cold periods are going to slow things up. It's just not pleasant for fishermen to be out there when it's just nasty cold anyway. It's tough on the fish and in some respects, tougher on the fishermen."