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Dennis Anderson: Again on the walleye opener, 'Winnie' gives up her treasures

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune on

Published in Outdoors

LAKE WINNIBIGOSHISH, Minn. — Minnesota fishing-license sales last week were down more than 20% from a year ago, according to the Department of Natural Resources. But busy roads leading north from the Twin Cities on Friday indicated that boats aplenty would be on the water Saturday morning, when the state's inland angling season began.

That proved to be the case on this 59,000-acre northern Minnesota gem.

As the sun crested the eastern horizon Saturday morning, brightening the red and white pines on the far shores of "Winnie,'' the expansive docks in front of McArdle's Resort, where our group headquartered, were filled starboard to port with virtually every make and manner of walleye-seeking craft.

Some boats were fancy, others not so much. Regardless, each, as daylight gathered, motored slowly onto "Winnie'' before rising on plane, their pilots and passengers alike hoping that nervous minnows impaled on kaleidoscopic jigs would trick walleyes into biting.

My first walleye took the bait within a handful of minutes of dropping a line into Winnie's 48-degree water.

Steve Vilks of Naples, Fla., Joe Hermes of Minneapolis and my wife Jan and I were fishing together, each of us dragging, jigging or otherwise fiddling with 1/8-ounce jigs rigged with rainbow chubs in 10 feet of water.

 

That initial walleye, a 14-incher, went into our live well, the first of what we hoped would be enough bounty at day's end for our annual opening-evening feast.

"It's a start,'' Steve said.

Weather-wise, the morning was about as good as we could hope for, given the Armageddon-like conditions that prevailed statewide Wednesday and Thursday nights. The temperature Saturday at 6:30 a.m. was in the high 40s, with calm-to-nonexistent winds.

Given how quickly we put that first walleye in the boat, Winnie, we thought, might give up her treasures as readily as she did a year ago on the opener, when we also fished out of McArdle's, and the action was fast.

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