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DNR Expert Confident Minnesota Fishing Opener Will Be Ideal

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota state Walleye Fishing Opener is still 10 days away, but it's created a lot of conversation.

Because the conditions this spring have left people wondering if their favorite lakes will be covered in ice. WCCO's Mike Max stopped by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources office for an optimistic update.

It wasn't April showers, but an April blizzard that got everyone's attention. Including the fishing world.

"We got cold weather surrounding that snow and it was just at the wrong time of the year. Normally we're just ratcheting up about this time of year with warm weather coming in," Al Stevens with the DNR said. "We had not had the warm weather in April to really warm things up."

Al Stevens is not alarmed. His work for the DNR included tracking ice conditions. On a web site, MODIS Today, he can keep an eye on every lake via satellite.

On April 18, the white tells you ice is thick.

By April 25, you can see the black ice is replacing it, meaning it's close.

"What happens is the quality of the ice changes. You can have 30 inches of ice that goes out overnight. The quality of the ice changes," Stevens said. "You're going to see a lot of black ice. The black ice means the water is infiltrating the ice so it's not long."

And did you know that a late spring, like 2013, is good for walleye production?

"Late springs tend to equate with better walleye reproduction. We've learned now that that year, 2013, in many of our walleye lakes was a real good year for reproduction," Stevens said.

It also means a simple strategy: Walleyes will be near the shoreline.

"On that opening morning anglers are going to find walleye are probably going to be shallow, which usually means good fishing because they're not dispersed out in the deeper waters," Stevens said. "So it should be good fishing."

So fear not, this could turn into an ideal opener.

"So there may be days where you're thinking 'I don't know if we're going to get on' but I think on most lakes you will," Stevens said.

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