Walleye Watch Out! It's Fishing Season

Michele Norris talks to Norm Clyde, who runs a fishing store called Fisherman's corner in Osakis, Minn. At one minute after midnight there, Northern Pike, Walleye and Sauger become legal game on the state's myriad waterways. Clyde explains how to catch the fish and when.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

For many in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the first day of the fishing season is the official start of summer. That's tonight. At one minute after midnight Central time, northern pike, walleye and sauger become legal game on the state's myriad waterways. Throughout Minnesota, lakeside resorts and camping grounds are sold out. Sporting good stores can't keep rods and reels in stock, and business is booming at bait and tackle shops. Norm Clyde runs one of those stores. It's called Fisherman's Corner in Osakis, Minnesota. That's home to Lake Osakis which is ranked one of the top 10 fishing lakes in the state.

And, Mr. Clyde, I understand with all those lakes there in the states, that's saying something.

Mr. NORM CLYDE (Fisherman's Corner): That's right.

NORRIS: How's business today?

Mr. CLYDE: Well, it's very busy, very busy. People are starting off their fishing expeditions now for the new start to the year, and this is the day they come in and stock up on their supplies and live bait and whatever have you.

NORRIS: As we've said, the season actually starts at 12:01. Now do the anglers hit the waters there in the dark?

Mr. CLYDE: Well, actually, some people can't wait that minute. They're out there one second after midnight. And the minute the legal time arrives, then they drop the lines in the water, and it's just like a start of the races.

NORRIS: So are they actually heading out to the water now?

Mr. CLYDE: Some people are out on the water with their electronics and their boats, and trying to locate fish. Some people just anchor and wait and hover over the fish.

NORRIS: So they're scouting.

Mr. CLYDE: And they can still fish for the panfish species. That's open year-round.

NORRIS: You mean the sunnies and the crappies and...

Mr. CLYDE: ...(Unintelligible) fish, the crappies and perch and things like that. Open season is for walleyes, northern pike, and towards the end of May, then the bass season will open, so actually, there's two openers.

NORRIS: Now Minnesota's known for walleye pike. For those who haven't had the delight of eating walleye pike, can you tell us a little bit about the pike?

Mr. CLYDE: Well, walleye is a favored fish, and one reason is because they're so elusive, and it gives people a big challenge, I mean, as far as catching them. And another reason is they're very, very edible. They're like a delicacy. You can't beat it.

NORRIS: I heard a bell in the background. Was that someone coming into the shop.

Mr. CLYDE: That's the door, yeah. I have a cowbell hanging above the door so if I'm in the back room, boxing bait, I know when people come in.

NORRIS: Speaking of bait, I hope you can give us some tips, and not just for those who are out there on opening day, but for anyone who liked to pick up a rod from time to time. What's the best bait?

Mr. CLYDE: It's kind of hard to put a finger on the best bait. Let's just say, for instance, we're fishing for walleyes. In the colder weather like it is now, the colder water, minnows seem to be the best bait, because they react differently in the colder water. With these leeches and crawlers also, they're worms, but the water's a little bit cold for them right now. They won't be as active in the water.

NORRIS: And, Norm, I know there are a lot of opinions about this, but from your vantage point, what's the best time to fish?

Mr. CLYDE: Best time to fish? Hmm. I would say just before dark and maybe the first hour after dark, and then again around midnight to 1:00, and then right away in the morning, just before the sun comes up. Can you hold on just for a minute?

NORRIS: Oh, of course.

Mr. CLYDE: Get Adam(ph) up here! We have to get another man on the job here.

NORRIS: Oh, I guess you got to keep that cash register going.

Mr. CLYDE: Oh, yeah. Even if it's very terrible weather, it's always going to be very, very busy on opening, because it is such a tradition.

NORRIS: What's the weather like today?

Mr. CLYDE: Thirty-nine degrees.

NORRIS: Oh!

Mr. CLYDE: Fahrenheit. So it's very traditional.

NORRIS: So how cold will it be at midnight?

Mr. CLYDE: It's not supposed to get above 40 degrees. And tomorrow, the wind's supposed to blow 25 to 30 out of the Northwest.

NORRIS: Boy, we can hear the customers there in the background.

Mr. CLYDE: Oh, yes. They're waiting in line. In fact, I might have to get off the line here, because we're on the same line that I issue licenses off of.

NORRIS: Oh, OK. So we're going to let you go. Norm, are you going to be out there at midnight?

Mr. CLYDE: I'll probably be catching up on some nap time before I have to come back in at 4:00 in the morning, so I won't get a chance to fish the opener.

NORRIS: Well, thanks so much for talking to us.

Mr. CLYDE: Oh, you're so very welcome.

NORRIS: Norm Clyde owns Fisherman's Corner in Osakis, Minnesota. He was talking to us about the official opening of the fishing season in the Land of Lakes.

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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