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Fishing season gets off to a cold, wet start

Rick and Justin Whittington approached the Lake Irving boat access Saturday morning not expecting to find a parking space.

They were worried for nothing as parking was pretty plentiful at the boat landing near the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Whether it was caused by the late ice-out or wet, cold conditions Saturday, Rick Whittington said the number of anglers was down Saturday morning.

"There's usually 40-50 boats out here," he said, motioning to the dozen or so boaters on Lake Irving Saturday afternoon. "It's way below average."

Rick Whittington of Bemidji and son Justin of Stillwater, Minn., started fishing on the lake about 8 a.m. Saturday, and came to shore shortly after 1 p.m.

"(The fishing) wasn't too bad," Rick Whittington said. "It was fair, not great."

Lake Bemidji was still about half covered with ice for Saturday's fishing opener with the ice on the south side of the lake, blocking access from Lake Irving. It was fairly cold opener with the temperature hovering right above 30 degrees with rain in the late morning that turned to snow in the afternoon.

"The rain makes it miserable," said Rick Whittington said.

In all, the Whittingtons brought home six walleyes, having thrown two back.

Robert Boock, an employee at Bluewater Outdoors in Bemidji said the fishing was pretty decent Saturday morning.

"They're pulling in nice walleyes," he said.

Most of the reports he had heard by early afternoon were from anglers who stuck close to home and took their chances on Lake Irving near the bridge.

"They're doing really well down there," Boock said.

As for the number of anglers out for the opener, he said he hadn't yet seen hard numbers.

"It looks like there's less out-of-towners," he said, "but it's still pretty strong. There's a lot of locals out there."

Ron Bostic, who owns Taber's Bait in Bemidji, said Turtle River was producing good results for anglers.

The number of fish caught Saturday morning seemed to be higher than last year, he said.

"But the number of people is a bit down," he said.