Muskies and walleyes are soon up for grabsWORTHINGTON — I really wonder if Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is going to catch a fish tomorrow. The Governor’s opener event has been conducted for many years and, for the most part, the past state leaders have not had very good luck.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — I really wonder if Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is going to catch a fish tomorrow. The Governor’s opener event has been conducted for many years and, for the most part, the past state leaders have not had very good luck.
Maybe this year will be better. I can say that the fishing opener is a crap shoot when it comes to weather. Some days are great and tomorrow is not going to be one of those days — unless, of course, the weather guessers are wrong again.
I can remember taking a radio personality out on the opener to do live broadcasts from the boat on Lake Okabena about 15 years ago. He showed up in a pair of zubas. These were the paper thin sweat pants that came in all of the loud and obnoxious colors.
I had on my waterfowler’s parka and insulated hunting boots and I almost froze to death. It was a very short day for this guest. He lasted about an hour and I think he took about 48 hours to thaw out.
As the president of the Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club at the time, I looked into hosting the Governors’ Opener in Nobles County. If my memory serves me correctly, the hosting organization need to commit about $25,000 for promotion and have at least 100 guide boats available to take the governor and all of the media out for the day.
I wanted to guide the governor but not 100 of his friends, so the idea died on the vine.
If the weather is good or bad it will have little effect on those who are dead-set on fishing tomorrow. If you are one of those, just where will you go? Deciding where to go on Sunday is easy. All you have to do is listen to the reports and the decision is made. With no early reports available, the most interesting lake in the region is Lake Sarah.
It is one of the most consistent producers year-round and has its very own strain of walleyes. The DNR did some genetic testing years ago and determined that the walleyes in Lake Sarah were genetically different from any of those in the surrounding area.
There is no scientific reason to explain this, but this strain has been self-sustaining in this lake with no outside stocking since 1993. No other lake of this caliber exists in the area that produces the size and numbers of walleyes Lake Sarah does, and every other lake in the area gets stocked by the DNR about two of every three years.
Sarah is my walleye fishing choice, but there is one other gem in the area that you should consider if you can wait until June 4. Fox Lake near Sherburn is really worth looking into. What makes this lake so unique is its muskies. It is the only muskie lake in the 10 counties of southwest Minnesota, and the information coming from this body of water is amazing.
It has been stocked with muskies every other year since 1999. When the population assessments were completed this spring, the area fisheries staff released over 120 muskies exceeding 35 inches in length. These fish were tagged with the readable micro-chip device so when and if the fish is caught again it will allow fisheries experts to follow their growth through the system and provide valuable information on how to manage this fishery.
There were also 12 fish caught and released that measured over 48 inches in length. These are great fish and very rare in this part of the state. The goal of any muskie angler is to catch fish bigger than 48 inches.
In order to protect this fledgling fishery, only fish that exceed 48 inches can be kept. All others must be released.
The fishing season for muskies does not open until June 4, but there is another very interesting thing happening on this lake. Fox Lake had tons of crappies in it, but they were always on the small size. Nobody really targeted them.
Now, these crappies are getting a lot bigger and are sought after by more than a few anglers with more than 100 ice houses on the lake this past hard water season. This increased size growth in the crappie population might see thinning numbers due to the presence of muskies. This is not a documented fact, but with less numbers you can see increased growth rates for certain fish species. Big muskies and bigger crappies just might make this angler give Fox Lake a try this season. It is one of the few lakes in southwest Minnesota that I have not launched a boat in.
I hope the weather cooperates and the fish bite, but in the end, for most fishermen the old saying that “a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work” still holds true.
Remember to take along and wear your life jacket. This will help make this a safe and enjoyable fishing season.
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.