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Ice, weather shut down fishing on opening day in Bemidji area

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BEMIDJI – The extensive ice cover on the lakes, temperatures barely above freezing and a strong northwest wind shut down the fishing activity in the Bemidji area on Saturday and opening day of the walleye and northern pike fishing seasons came and went without any fanfare.

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"I’m not seeing a whole lot of anything in terms of fishermen or fishing success," Bemidji area conservation officer Brice Vollbrecht said late Saturday morning.

"There are only a handful of boats and I haven’t seen any fish being caught."

The only way to get to Lake Bemidji on Saturday was via the Lake Irving access and at 10:30 a.m. only half a dozen rigs were at the site.

The vast majority of the anglers who did decide to brave the elements were working the channel between Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving and fishing in that location was very slow.

"The people I talked to who put in at Lake Irving didn’t have a bite," said Kyle Walker who will spend his summer doing a DNR sponsored creel survey on Lake Bemidji. "I was hoping to see some boats on Lake Bemidji but I’ve only seen one (as of 10:30 a.m.). "The only open water on the lake is by Library Park."

The channel was busy with anglers working from the shore when the walleye season officially opened at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Scott Pearson of Bemidji was among those who couldn’t wait until daylight to start their season.

"There were about 40 to 50 of us in waders along the channel at midnight," Pearson said. "But the only thing any of us caught was one sucker. We stuck around the longest but we finally left around 2 a.m."

Casey Fenton of Bemidji was among a handful of anglers who were using the dock on the Bemidji side of the channel on Saturday morning. And, like those who braved the conditions during the early-morning hours, Fenton and his associates were having no success.

"I did snag a couple of sticks," Fenton, who tried a minnow bait and a crank bait, said. "Nobody caught anything during the 90 minutes that I was fishing."

Aaron Templin, who worked the morning shift at Taber’s Bait in Bemidji, confirmed Fenton’s report.

"From what I heard, the bite was not as strong as expected," Templin said. "I think many of the walleyes are in the rivers that are closed to fishing (to protect the spawning walleyes). Right now there aren’t many walleyes available in the lakes.

"And Saturday’s weather put a real damper on the fishing," Templin added. "My bet is that the fishing will be much better next week."

Anglers in the Cass Lake area fared no better on Saturday than did the Bemidji fishermen.

"There’s not a whole lot happening," said Karen Phillips of Froggy’s Sports in Cass Lake. "Anglers are trying to find some open water but there isn’t much of it around. Basically, fishing was shut down in the Cass Lake area on Saturday."

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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