Open water opener

The million-dollar question of the week, “Is the ice going to be gone by the opener?” has become a little easier to answer after yesterday’s rain. Devil Track Lake had only receded 20 or 30 feet from the shoreline until the slow rainfall flooded, and eventually sunk the remaining ice patch that covered the lake.

I was surprised to wake and find the lake is open as far as we can see from our third-story apartment above the lodge. Time to get the docks into the lake and start the outboard motors so we are ready in time for the fishing opener this weekend.

Some ofmy days have been spent preparing cabins and repairing whatever the harsh winter has broken on the Gunflint Trail, and I saw that many of the smaller lakes have already opened up. Iron and Little Iron both looked open and Poplar was very close. The remaining ice will be no match for the rain that has been forecast for our area.

Open water is a blessing indeed, but my experience has shown that cold water openers are not very productive, especially on the bigger lakes. Fish are cold-blooded creatures, and cold water slows their metabolism causing them to be lethargic and lazy. The smaller lakes that have warmed up faster are typically going to have hungrier fish that are ready to fight.

Whichever lake you choose to fish this weekend, try fishing slower and using smaller baits to entice the weary biters. Slip-bobbers or slow drifting with live-bait rigs are both great cold water presentations, and try finding the warmest water on the lake, which will be in muddy bottom bays that get the most exposure to the sunshine. Good luck.