PHOTO BY CLINT AUSTIN / NEWS TRIBUNE
Dave Schaeffer of Tower holds one of the five walleyes he caught Saturday on Lake Vermilion.
The weather was challenging across Northeastern Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday, opening weekend of fishing in Minnesota. Temperatures were in the high 30s to mid-40s, with wind, some rain and some snow. The fishing seemed to be good in some places, not as good in others. The walleye fishing was exceptional on Lake Winnibigoshish and Cut Foot Sioux lakes near Deer River, according to Deapartment of Natural Resources conservation office Mike Fairbanks of Deer River. He reported both large numbers of walleyes and a lot of big fish being caught.
Fishing was slower on the St. Louis River, according to COs Matt Miller and Keith Olson. But several nice walleyes were seen. Marty Mattson of Saginaw won the Moldeez Bar/Marine General Supply Walleye Fishing Contest on Saturday with a 7.94-pound walleye. He edged out Phil Rust of Duluth, who had a 7.72-pound walleye, and Phil’s brother Mike Rust of Duluth with a 6.97-pound walleye.
I fished Lake Vermilion on Saturday with fishing guides Dave Schaeffer of Tower and Denny Van de Linde of Cook, who have fished together on the opener for 33 years now. We caught a half-dozen walleyes in the morning, the largest a 22-incher. Most of them fell into Winnie’s 17- to 26-inch protected slot limit, so they had to be immediately returned to the water.
Our fishing seemed to be about the same as those around us were having. Nobody was slaying them, but everyone seemed to be getting a few fish.
Most anglers were just thankful that the ice went out in time for the opener. Some ice still remained on Winnie, and the east end of Lake Vermilion had a lot of ice remaining. A few lakes remained ice-covered for the opener.