Advice for west central Minnesota anglers ahead of May 13 walleye and northern pike opener

·4 min read


— The conventional wisdom that shallow lakes provide the best early season opportunities for walleye holds true again, as a late ice-out and cool water temperatures are sure to impact this year's walleye and northern pike opener on May 13.

Yet be assured: There are walleye waiting, as Dave Coahran, fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Spicer, and staff know well. They've been netting the lakes in the Spicer Fisheries Management Area and offer this early preview of where anglers can find their best opportunities.

According to this year's report, lakes where recent fisheries netting or electrofishing surveys show current excellent populations of walleye include Andrew, Eagle, Koronis, Minnetaga and Norway, all in Kandiyohi County; Koronis in Stearns County; and Cottonwood and School Grove (check on winterkill) in Lyon County.

The shallower and warmer lakes or the shallow bays of the deeper lakes may be the preferred locations to target first as the recently spawned-out walleye seek warmer water to recover and feed.

The fisheries supervisor also recommends targeting inlets coming from shallow and rapidly warming wetlands. Slip bobbers or crankbaits may be the ticket, he added.

Look to East Solomon, Koronis, Rice, Diamond, Florida and Green for the best combination of numbers and size right now.

Sunfish: Lakes where recent fisheries surveys show excellent populations of quality-sized bluegill include Florida, Long (near Hawick), Nest, George, Elkhorn, Diamond, Green and Bass.

Crappie: Diamond Lake has another massive year-class of crappies (9-plus inches). Also look to Foot, Rice and Ringo lakes. If looking for a trophy, try Nest Lake where 14- to 16-inch slabs occur.

Yellow Perch: Head south to Cottonwood Lake. It's the place for the larger specimens. Other lakes that historically have produced jumbos include Big Kandiyohi, Wakanda, Minnetaga and Lake Lillian. Tyson Lake south of Wood Lake also has some decent-sized perch right now.

Bass: Catch-and-release fishing is allowed May 13-26, with the keeper season opening on May 27. Just about every lake starting a few miles north of Willmar in Kandiyohi County is worth angling for largemouth bass, according to the report. East Solomon, Long (by Willmar), Florida and Norway are particularly good. Smaller lakes with quality bass populations include Monson, Camp and Bass. Lakes with excellent smallmouth and largemouth bass angling are Koronis, Nest, Eagle and Green. Smallmouth angling on Big Kandiyohi County has recently become popular.

In the fishing opener report, Coahran advises anglers that there has been some winterkill due to the long winter and prolonged snow cover on area lakes. In the seven-county area managed by the Spicer fisheries crew, winterkill events have occurred on Swenson, Mud/Monongalia near New London, Elizabeth/Ella, all in Kandiyohi County; and School Grove Lake near Cottonwood.

The Spicer crew will be doing follow-up checks on these lakes, and can provide more update reports on these lakes prior to the opener by calling the office at 320-409-2044.

Looking to try neighboring waters? There are plenty of opportunities.

The best walleye options are found on Belle and Collinwood lakes. The top pick for larger-sized northern pike is Minnie-Belle Lake.

Well-known waters top the list of the best choices for walleye. Traverse, Big Stone and Lac qui Parle are the top recommendations. Oliver, Del Clark and Hendricks also have quality populations.

Del Clark is the best prospect for numbers of pike, with the potential of a trophy. Perch, Traverse, Hendricks and Lac qui Parle also have decent numbers with some over 30 inches.

Water levels are projected to recede well before the opener and provide anglers with an abundance of shore fishing opportunities and easy boat launching at public access sites.

Downstream of Granite Falls: The stretch from below the Granite Falls dam to Mankato offers outstanding fishing for channel catfish, flathead catfish, freshwater drum and walleye.

Upstream of Granite Falls: The waters from upstream of the Granite Falls dam to Ortonville provide good channel catfish, freshwater drum and walleye fishing. The waters below the Lac qui Parle Dam offer the best mix of fishing opportunities.

Read the full narrative on fishing opportunities on the

Minnesota DNR