The Dryden Observer

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Where the walleye are…

With this year’s changes in the environment, the water levels, and the temperatures, you may wonder what the fishing is going to be like on opening weekend.

This was a remarkable year for the ice to be out, with it leaving up to four weeks early on some lakes.  While this was great for those who were still doing winter fishing from a boat, this is going to cause some major changes in spring fishing normality’s.

“This year, being about a month ahead, a lot of people are going to caught get fishing where they would normally fish for the opener.” says John Butts, Pro fisherman and sportsman.  “The fish are weeks ahead this year, so you want to fish now, where you would normally be in the middle of June.”

With the differences in water levels, this will affect how we fish, and where the fish are living.  The water on most lakes is down substantially this year, and in areas where you may have previously fished that were “hotspots” may not be now.

Butts predicts that the fish populations shouldn’t fluctuate too much this year, unless a typical spawning area is in a deep water location.  This year, with the water levels being drastically lower in some lakes, the fish will not return to their usual spawning location as they no longer feel safe with the lower water levels.

The ones who do take the risk and continue to their spawning areas, are then at risk of predators from above the waves.  They become a target for birds, bears, and other fish-eating creatures that can now see them below the water surface.

According to Butts, shallow fishing is best for walleye, and minnows tend to dominate in the early spring season, due to the transition of how the bait fish work.  Leaches and worms are effective, but not until later into the season when the water temperatures are warmer.

One benefit that the more seasoned fishermen have is locators with temperature monitors built in.  Butts says this is a very effective tool as you can monitor the temperature of your chosen fishing spots.  Walleye tend to migrate to warmer pockets, where you will find the minnows and small bait fish, along with the flies that have hatched.

“If it’s 4 or 5 degrees warmer in a bay, it can make a huge difference in the fish populations” says Butts.  “That can change from one day to the next mind you.  If the wind switches and blows cold water in, the fish will move to a warmer location.”

When it comes to lures, due to the water having warmed earlier this year, Butts says the traditional spinners and jig with minnows are the best choices for lures.  He also comments that slip bobbers are very effective, but very under-utilized in this area.

When asked about colors, Butts says that glow in the dark jigs are great, and he uses them a lot.  Where most people tend to choose the brighter, more florescent colors, Butts recommends the use of the darker jig heads in the murkier waters.

“A darker color in the type of water we have, will show up better.  A color like chartreuse will blend out much quicker than a black or dark red,” say Butts.

Butts, feeling very hopeful about this years fishing says, “Things are falling into place, and could be one of the better openers that we’ve ever had in this area.”

– Ally Dunham

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