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Anglers should see warmer temperatures for walleye fishing opener

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Anglers should see warmer temperatures for walleye fishing opener
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

After a crummy two weeks of miserable weather, the fishing gods will smile on the Minnesota walleye opener Saturday.

"The weather will be moderating," said National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Kaiser. "It will still be a bit cool Thursday but by Friday and Saturday we'll see temperatures in the mid to high 60s as a high moves in."

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And although warmer weather may tempt fish out of the shallows, getting those fish hooked this year could present challenges.

Shiner minnows, because of above-normal April temperatures, had their run a month ago.

"It got too warm too early," said Tim Englund, owner of North Country Bait in Hubbard County.

"Shiners are scarce," Englund said. They just don't keep so people will have to use leeches and crawlers."

With the fishing opener a week later than normal and shiners running in April, there was too long of a gap in between, Englund said.

"This warm weather really set the bait industry on its tail," he admitted.

Englund is scrambling to try to find his customers river shiner minnows so he can fill orders.

If bait scarcity isn't enough of a hardship, the Minnesota DNR says some lakes in central, eastern and northeastern Minnesota are down a foot to two feet, which could make boat launching a precarious endeavor.

AmericInn of Park Rapids was about half booked for the opening weekend, said general manager Gail Lockrem. She was hoping the motel would fill by the weekend as anglers waited to hear the extended forecast.

And like local merchants, Lockrem was also hoping for a better summer than 2009.

"It had its ups and downs," she said of last season.

Delaney's Sports Center in Park Rapids took on a party atmosphere Saturday. There were hot dogs roasting on a grill, bacon-wrapped shrimp served inside and a flurry of activity at the licensing counter.

Rods, new reels and fishing gadgets were selling well, owner Debbie Lempola said.

The latest fishing must-have? Sunglasses with a teeny video camera between the lenses that you can activate by a button on the bow.

It will shoot up to 2½ hours of videotape for that lunker you're trying to land. It frees up both hands for the task.

Ed and Jean Prater of Potato Lake were stocking up on licenses, not gadgets. Jean said she planned on skipping the Take-A-Mom fishing opener this past weekend on Mother's Day. Too brisk, she shivered.

But come the weekend, the Praters and a houseful of relatives and grandkids will stage their own family fishing contest on the lake, awarding prizes for the first fish caught and "the largest, if there are any," Ed said.

Cindy Bonde and son Ryan purchased a family license and were planning on braving the elements on Mother's Day, which turned out to be a surprisingly beautiful day. They'll be launching their boat on Big Stony Lake.

"The walleye spawning is done," said Edie Evarts, assistant area fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Park Rapids.

"The fish are hungry," Evarts predicted. But because of unseasonably warm temperatures, "they may not be in their traditional spots. They've left the spawning areas."

All things considered, "there's a lot of potential for a good opening weekend."

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