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Local and state fishing reports

An area angler put it this way: "My walleye fishing can be best called 'ho-hum.'"

Another angler called it "here today, gone tomorrow."

It goes without saying, walleyes are not the only species of fish in and around the Park Rapids region. Our lakes have an abundance of bass, northern pike, panfish and crappie.

Bass fisherman are off to a great start, reporting nice catches of both largemouth and smallmouth. Crappies, on some lakes, are just wrapping up the spawning cycle and still actively biting. Bluegills can be found on the beds, of course, dependent on the lake. Northern pike seemingly always eager to entertain fisherman.

Red Lake is still reporting good action, with a lot of smaller walleyes filling anglers creels. Leech Lake walleyes are cooperative. You'll find the most success with a leech on a jig suspended below a bobber, anchored up in areas around rocks, particularly on windy days. Rocky areas around Bear Island merit a look.

Causing confusion is the lake temperatures, dropping 10 to 12 degrees in the past two weeks. This certainly shocks fish, like walleyes, into dormancy. Early mornings and at dusk still are the best fishing times.

One our area's top fishing guides, Jeremy Anderson, put it to me this way, "Walleyes are poised to start biting with stable weather and water temperatures."

I agree. Our best walleye fishing is yet to come — just in time for the many visiting our area lakes to enjoy.

Don Pereira, current Minnesota DNR Fisheries chief, announced he will be retiring. His last day was Friday. I personally have had the privilege to serve with Pereira on the Minnesota State Walleye Committee and have shared the podium with him several times at the Minnesota DNR Roundtable held every January.

While controversial issues, such as Mille Lacs, clearly took it is toll, it was always clear to me Pereira's first and foremost concern was doing what is right for the state's fishing resource biologically, then always protecting anglers' ability to access it.

I am honored to have been asked to serve on the selection committee to review potential candidates for Pereira's replacement. Considering what is happening now and what is on the horizon, the next fisheries chief will have his or her hands full. There is the continuing threat of current and new aquatic invasive species entering our lake and river environments and pressure for the Minnesota DNR to do more in this effort.

Mille Lacs continues to be a hot topic. The lake being totally catch-and-release for walleyes this season is not popular with anglers, resort owners and other business concerns.

Not far from Hubbard County, an effort to stop a blue ribbon musky stocking program in Otter Tail County continues.

On a wider scale, our lawmakers chip away at the Minnesota DNR's capabilities to manage the state's fishery resources properly. They are putting social whims and opinions first instead of sound biological data and practices.

A bigger question is how does the Minnesota DNR regain some of its trust back from resident and nonresident sport anglers as the result of these controversies?

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