Walleye opener figures to be good catch

Darryl McLeod predicts the walleye opener to be “pretty good” when anglers hit the water this Saturday.
McLeod, an area biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources office here, said the strong 1994 year class of fish is now five years old and so anglers should see a high abundance of 15-16” fish.
He also noted fishing should be particularly strong on Rainy Lake and the Lake of the Woods, and added this trend should continue over the next few years.
“The future looks good. We have had several good years since ’95–it’s been above average,” McLeod said last week, noting the 1992 and ’93 classes were “poor” ones due to short summers and cool temperatures those years.
Last year was a relatively good opener due to the record early ice-out and above normal temperatures. But McLeod said the low water levels last year potentially could have a negative effect on the fisheries.
Still, he noted water levels are up this year over last.
But McLeod also warned fishing on the opener traditionally is slower due to the colder water temperatures and the fact the fish have just finished spawning (or are still spawning).
And this year, the opener (held on the third Saturday in May) falls on the 15th this year, which is the earliest it can be.
“It’s a fairly early start, which may get the fishing off to a slow start,” he remarked. “It’s just two weeks after the ice-out but [the fishing] usually picks up in May.”
Meanwhile, though walleye fishing has improved since 1994, and should continue to do so, McLeod said northern pike and bass fishing is currently excellent on Rainy Lake.
Anglers also are reminded the new daily catch-and-possession limit for walleye/sauger has been reduced from six to four (two for a conservation licence)–and only one of those can be greater than 46 cm (18 inches).
Northern pike also has a new daily catch-and-possession limit of four (two for a conservation licence), of which none can be between 70-90 cm (27.5-35.4 inches) and only one can be greater than 90 cm (35.4 inches).
New for bass, during the open season Dec. 1-June 30, the daily catch-and-possession limit is two largemouth or smallmouth bass in any combination (one for a conservation licence), which must be less than 35 cm (13.75 inches).
For the open season July 1 to Nov. 30, the daily catch-and-possession limit is four in any combination (two for a conservation licence).
For lake trout, the daily catch-and-possession limit remains two (one for a conservation licence) although during September, only one may be longer than 56 cm (22 inches).
And beginning in the year 200, the daily catch-and-possession limit for yellow perch will be 50 and 15 for black crappie.