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Consistent action attracts anglers early in the season

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BLACKDUCK — The early season walleye fishing on Blackduck Lake can be memorable but, if your goal is to claim a spot all to yourself, you may want to consider heading somewhere else.

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“Blackduck tends to be a good lake for the opener and there are good catch rates for the first one or two weeks,” said Bemidji Area DNR Fisheries Supervisor Gary Barnard. “But it’s also not uncommon to have an overflowing parking lot during the first few weeks.”

By the end of the summer the congestion at the public access on the east side of the lake should be minimized by the construction of a second access on the west side. The access, however, will not limit the congestion on the water.

“The majority of the lake is less than 15 feet and the way the lake warms in the spring makes it a good early-season walleye lake,” Barnard said. “It also has a good perch population which provides a stable food source.”

Much of the early-season fishing occurs in the shallow bars of the bay on the west side of the lake, Barnard said. Eventually the bite dissipates along the shoreline breaks.

“The fishing also starts out as a jig and minnow bite but then the fishermen move to leeches and slip bobbers.”

The thriving walleye population on Blackduck is the result of a comprehensive stocking program that DNR officials have designed for the lake.

“The fringe water in Blackduck is (predominantly) bulrush and there really aren’t many areas with good rock rubble that you associate with productive walleye spawning habitat,” Barnard said.

“The steady fishing on Blackduck is a result of the steady fry stocking that we do. We stock walleye fry two out of every three years. Blackduck doesn’t have much natural reproduction and we never see many old fish when we sample the walleye population.

“There isn’t much carry over with the spawning stock and for Blackduck, fry stocking is the efficient way to manage the walleye population.”

Blackduck Lake was surveyed last summer and DNR officials sampled walleyes ranging from 7 inches to 28 inches. The majority, however, were between 12 and 14 inches.

“Right now the 2009 year class is the dominant class in Blackduck,” Barnard said. “The fish in that class were 13.5 inches last summer and will probably be 14 to 14.5 inches this year. They now are the perfect eating-sized walleyes and will make up the majority of this year’s catch.

“Overall, anglers are happy with the walleye catch rates on Blackduck Lake,” Barnard added. “There is no point in trying to keep the walleye fishing on Blackduck a secret. We publicize Blackduck as a good early-season walleye lake. But it can be crowded early in the season and if you want to fish it or not depends upon if you are willing to walk from the golf course after parking your trailer.”

Bluegills, pike, perch

Fishermen who know where to go and when to be there also find some large bluegills on Blackduck. Anglers who don’t understand the tenuous dynamics of a fishery, however, can quickly overharvest a sunfish population. In an effort to protect the large bluegills, a special regulation limiting the daily catch and possession to five fish has been implemented on Blackduck.

“There is a low density of bluegills in Blackduck but it is one of those lakes where you have a legitimate chance of catching an 11-inch bluegill,” Barnard said. “The special regulation was put in place in 2006 to protect that unique opportunity.”

The perch also are worth pursuing and winter anglers often target them once the walleye season closes.

“Blackduck is known for its winter perch fishing,” Barnard said. “The lake has very productive perch water and last summer we sampled quite a few fish in the 10 to 12-inch range.”

The northern pike also chase the perch and every year fishermen catch some very nice pike.

“There is a very nice size distribution for the northern pike,” Barnard said, adding that pike as large as 33 inches were sampled last summer. “Blackduck has never been known as a high-density pike late but now it looks like the lake has some quality pike as well as some quantity.”

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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