Fishing Opener is Upon Us

Saturday is a religious holiday in Minnesota: the Walleye fishing opener.  Got your fishing license yet?  Yup, me too, with a trout stamp.

While Minnesota is best known for it’s 10,000 lakes “Up North”, Southwest Minnesota has a fair amount of ponds, too.  The Windom DNR office is responsible for my part of that prairie, and the DNR report looks good for the opener:

The 2011-2012 year started out with near record precipitation in the spring and in July transitioned into a period of extreme drought. As a result of that many of the Windom Area Lakes were spared from stress due to high winter dissolved oxygen levels. Many of the area winter aeration systems were not installed or run because of the lack of snow. In general, many of the Windom Area Lakes levels are lower than their normal run-out. It is common for area lakes to be a 1-2 foot below their normal water elevations. Winter ice fishing this season has been above average despite the low water levels. It was an active winter for walleye anglers in the Windom area. For additional local information about some of these lakes and others, please use the lake finder tab or visit our area website. At the area website you may find more current lake depth contours, preliminary survey information, stocking information and
Windom Area Website

You really need a boat to enjoy the best fishing in this area—Lake Sarah and Lake Shetek in Murray County, Lake Benton in Lincoln County, and more.  Shetek also features a State Park, which offers additional benefits for new fishermen:

No one should feel left out when talk turns – as it does this time of year – to plans for the big Minnesota fishing opener.

Any state resident who wants to participate in that annual rite of spring can now do so easily and for free at most Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

Minnesota residents no longer need a license when shore-fishing at most lakes within Minnesota state parks…

In addition to stocking Minnesota lakes and streams with fish, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also stocks parks with fishing kits that visitors can borrow for free…

For those who lack experience or want to improve their fishing skills, Minnesota state parks provide free I Can Fish! programs throughout the spring and summer. These hands-on learning opportunities cover fish identification, casting, knot-tying and more. Fishing gear is provided for use during the programs…

There are some fishing docks in the area, but few and far between and those seem more than DNR can keep up with.  Worthington’s Lake Okabena is a gem for us lower-income, shoreline fisherman with a large (if heavily armored) public access beach.  And if you like bass, take a gander at Fish Lake on the Cottonwood-Jackson county line.  I could give you more tips, but a fisherman’s got to keep something back for himself.

See you on the water!

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