Walleye generally shallow on opener

The biggest fishing weekend of the year for anglers and resort owners across the Sunset Country region is set to go down this coming weekend as the walleye season opens back up after being closed for the past month to protect these fish while they spawned.
The walleye season across our region opens annually on the third Saturday in May, and with this weekend comes the official start of another tourism season.
Since it’s such a popular weekend for anglers to get out on the water, most who target walleyes have their favourite spots and presentations to put in front of the fish.
Though conditions change from year to year, spawning locations do not, so the same general areas usually will produce from year to year. It’s up to anglers to figure out the precise depth, colour, and bait that the fish want.
Generally, shallower water is the answer for numbers of fish, especially big ones. They are taking advantage of the warmer water that is attracting a lot of food in the form of shiners, perch, and other minnows.
When I say shallow, my experiences early in the season on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake is to focus on six-12 feet in the shallow bays, especially if there is current nearby.
Sand bottom with some weeds mixed in is a really high percentage spot.
Anglers do need to know that yes, there also are deep walleyes in our lakes early in the season, as well, but many don’t realize that they are doing a lot of harm to these fish by catching them out of excessively deep water.
I frequently hear from folks who are catching walleyes in 45, 50, or even 55 feet of water. If you are keeping these fish, that’s fine. But if you are intending to release them, the truth is they are not releasable.
Further, it is a myth that if you reel them up slow, they can adjust their bodily functions so they are not injured from being caught out of deep water. The reality is, it takes hours for fish to adjust to massive changes in depth like this.
The rule of thumb should be not to target fish in water deeper than 35 feet if you intend to release it.
In speaking with a few people in the tourism industry over the past week, it sounds like we have a pretty good season shaping up, although everybody is having to adapt to changes in the economy.
Matt Rydberg from Crawford’s Camp in Sioux Narrows said he has a busy camp throughout most of the summer season, but did note that a lot more of his guests are travelling from Manitoba than ever before.
Down on Rainy Lake, Tom Pearson at Camp Narrows Lodge said he had a decent season booked up, but that more anglers now ere coming to Rainy Lake to target the healthy population of monster walleyes.
In the past, the majority of Pearson’s guests were coming to Rainy Lake to fish for smallmouths.
Gene Halley and his family have outpost camps across the northern part of Sunset Country on some of the best walleye waters in the region. He noted they have good bookings for this season, but that they are pulling most of their business from return customers and from the Internet.
They attend several sport shows in the U.S. annually, but have seen a major decrease in the number of guests that they are booking at these shows.
All the best to anglers on opening weekend. Hopefully, we get some nice weather and everyone is safe on the water.

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