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Bemidji anglers have varying success in fishing opener

Mike Novotny casts his line off the shore of Lake Bemidji near Paul Bunyan Park Saturday afternoon. Brian matthews | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Levi Thorson (left) and Joey Hegg (right) put a fish on the line Saturday afternoon on the fishing dock near the Paul Bunyan Drive Bridge. Brian Matthews | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI- The weather was gorgeous for Saturday's walleye opener; perfect for fishing, not so perfect for catching walleye.

"The weather was too damn nice," Kelley Manson said at the Northwoods Public Water Access on Lake Bemidji. "The lake was like glass last night. There was just no chop.

Manson, from Anoka, comes to Lake Bemidji every year for the fishing opener. He said this year has been a bit slower than past years, partially due to the lack of wind on the lake.

He explained that walleye chop, or rough waters, is better for walleye fishing because that is when the fish feed.

Blue Water Outdoors Manager Mark Cook said anglers on Lake Irving had some luck and on Lake Bemidji the fish stayed shallow, with most anglers catching them at depths of eight to twelve feet.

Taber's Bait Owner Ron Bostic said that the hottest lake in the area was Big Rice Lake, but Lake Plantangenet seems to have the most consistent bite.

"A lot of little ones have been caught there, where you are burning through the bait but not really getting fish to eat," Bostic said.

Bostic said that people who know Lake Bemidji and Cass Lake have also had success. He has not heard of a lot of limits being reached, but a lot of young male fish are being caught, which is typical for this time of year.

No record setting catches have been reported to Gander Mountain, Taber's Bait or Blue Water Outdoors, but Bostic said it is only a matter of time.

"People are so into catch--and-release this time of year," Bostic said. "No state records have been reported but by Monday or Tuesday I will start seeing pictures."

For fisherman like Levi Thorson and Joey Hegg, who fish off the dock at Paul Bunyan Park, casting their lines right under the Paul Bunyan Drive Bridge, the fish seemingly could not stop biting.

"(Fish) love this spot," Thorson said. "I come here every year. This spot is always busy especially at night."

The two fishermen caught a few fish off the dock, including a 19-inch walleye that weighed just over two pounds.

The bait shops have been busy, and owners say that the weather has a lot to do with it as well as the shiner population.

"There is a major shiner bite going on right now because they are in full bloom in spawn," Bostic said. "It's awesome fishing."