An early spring may change anglers' tactics but should provide for a good opener, according to the DNR.
The May 13 walleye-northern pike opener is expected to be good throughout east-central Minnesota. Early springs usually result in good fishing.
"The only factor is whether there will be good weather on opening day," said Jim Lilienthal, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Little Falls.
If spring temperatures continue to climb it's possible northern pike may head for their summer habitat about three weeks earlier than normal.
Lake environments are from three to four weeks ahead of schedule. Anglers may want to try June tactics in May. Walleyes spawned two weeks earlier than normal in the Little Falls area.
Lilienthal said crappie populations in area lakes are the highest in several years. "We anticipate that by opening day the crappie bite will be strong," he said.
Crappies had good spawns in 1994, 1996 and 1997. These fish should be between 8 and 12 inches.
Anglers are encouraged to keep northern pike 24-inches and smaller. Many panfish lakes have an abundance of small pike.
"They especially have a negative impact on stocked walleye," said Brady Becker, DNR assistant area fisheries supervisor in Little Falls. "Large pike signify a good balanced fish community in the lake. If anglers throw small pike back because they think they are going to grow to a trophy fish that is a misconception. Very few small northern live to become trophy size."
Anglers should practice restraint when fishing walleyes in lakes 300 acres and smaller because these lakes don't have high numbers of walleyes.
"If you want to catch numbers of walleye the larger lakes (over 1,000 acres) are typically a better choice," Lilienthal said.
Fishing for stream trout in lakes should also be very good. The trout lakes have been stocked and there are good numbers of nice size fish available that have carried-over from previous years.
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