Minnows may be hard to find for Saturday's Minnesota walleye opener

DULUTH - Boat and motor ready for the walleye opener on Saturday? Check. New line on the reel? Check? Minnows for bait?

 
Minnows, like these spot tailed shiners, may be hard to come by for Saturday's Minnesota walleye fishing opener. A cool spring following a winter that saw fish die-offs in some shallow lakes and ponds has slowed minnow trapping. Forum News Service file photo

Minnows, like these spot tailed shiners, may be hard to come by for Saturday's Minnesota walleye fishing opener. A cool spring following a winter that saw fish die-offs in some shallow lakes and ponds has slowed minnow trapping. Forum News Service file photo

 

Not so fast.

A cool spring following a winter that saw many fish perish in shallow ponds and lakes have combined to create a minnow shortage in the final days before the Minnesota walleye fishing opener set for May 11.

Despite many bait dealers saying minnows could be in short supply ahead of Saturday's Minnesota fishing opener, John Chalstrom of Chalstrom's bait near Duluth said he's confident he'll have enough minnows for anglers by Friday. Forum News Service file photo

Despite many bait dealers saying minnows could be in short supply ahead of Saturday's Minnesota fishing opener, John Chalstrom of Chalstrom's bait near Duluth said he's confident he'll have enough minnows for anglers by Friday. Forum News Service file photo

Many minnows are raised and then trapped in shallow ponds and lakes in central and western Minnesota, many of which suffered low oxygen levels this winter causing fish to die. Heavy snow shuts down sunlight penetration, causing weeds to die and decay, consuming oxygen rather than producing it.

For some species like sucker minnows and shiners, the high, cold water caused a delay in their annual spawning as the fishing opener nears.

"It ain't gonna be good," said Phlilip Koep, owner of Urbank Live Bait Co. in Clitherall. "It's just been too cold for some of them to spawn. Shiners are going to be really tough. And a lot of suckers died off."

Koep said most bait shops he supplies should get a small delivery of fatheads and chubs "but probably not as many as they want."

Koep said bait trappers are facing a reduced number of lake options to take minnows from because they must avoid lakes with invasive species like zebra mussels. Minnesota law also prohibits importing most out of state minnows.

"I'm sitting here with an empty hatchery,'' said John Adams, owner of Lake and River Bait in Brainerd. Adams raises sucker minnows and sells all types of minnows wholesale. "Suckers haven't even spawned yet in the rivers. ... Shiners, like spot-tails, are going to be really in low numbers. And leeches are going to be small. It's been too cold." 

For full article, go to: Perham Focus

Source, image(s), credits & more: Perham Focus | John Myers / Forum News Service