Minn. Fishing Season May Be Biggest In Decades Michele Norris talks to John Wetrosky, a former fishing guide in Pine River, Minn., about the opening of the fishing season -- possibly the biggest opener in decades.
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Minn. Fishing Season May Be Biggest In Decades

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Minn. Fishing Season May Be Biggest In Decades

Minn. Fishing Season May Be Biggest In Decades

Minn. Fishing Season May Be Biggest In Decades

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126805549/126805524" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Michele Norris talks to John Wetrosky, a former fishing guide in Pine River, Minn., about the opening of the fishing season — possibly the biggest opener in decades.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

To say the folks in The Land of 10,000 Lakes are excited about this weekend's fishing opener is a bit of an understatement. People are throwing around superlatives, like anglers casting their lines: stupendous, the omega of omegas, the epitome.

With an early thaw and unseasonably warm weather, walleye bass and trout just might be biting lines like crazy. And crazy is the word that describes what life is like now for anyone involved in the fishing business.

John Wetrosky used to be a fishing guide in Pine River, Minnesota. He still likes to hit the lakes and he joins us on the line from Pine River.

Thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. JOHN WETROSKY (Former Fishing Guide): Sure.

NORRIS: So why is this opener so special?

Mr. WETROSKY: Well, every opener is special in Minnesota. We like to think of it as Christmas and Thanksgiving and Fourth of July all wrapped up in one big package. And generally, spawning takes place in mid April and actually it happened earlier this year, so a lot of times the walleyes, right after they spawn, they go into kind of a lull as far as biting goes, and that lull has been over with now for a little while. So everybody's looking forward to a really great opener this year.

NORRIS: Is this the opener of a lifetime for you?

Mr. WETROSKY: Well, I think it's probably one of the few that I would probably put a circle around. You don't get too many years where the weather actually warms up as fast as it had here. So my experience has been over those years, when you have years like this, which are few and far between, it's kind of reason to get a little more excited, and I think that's where I'm at.

NORRIS: Now won't, though, the same things that make this a great opener also create certain challenges? If the weather is warm, doesn't that also mean that the fish are not where they normally would be at this time of the year?

Mr. WETROSKY: Yeah, generally if we have a cold spring, the fish will generally be shallower, in shallow water. This year, they'll be back in their kind of early summer pattern. So fishermen will be fishing a little bit deeper than they normally do, and I think they'll find the fish will be schooled tighter than they normally do.

This year, I think that they're going to be concentrated, which should make for a better catch.

NORRIS: Now, you're up in there in northern Minnesota, where there's lakes all over the place, and there are bait and tackle shops all over the place. What's the scene up there right now?

Mr. WETROSKY: Well, from about the middle of the week, which would have been yesterday, on Wednesday, right on through Sunday, bait and tackle shops, the people are lined up at the doors, and the tackle shops just buzz. It's just a hub of activity, and it's really fun. I worked in one for eight years, and I never really got tired of that. We had to take a two- or three-day rest after opening weekend just to kind of get back to normal.

So it's just really a fun atmosphere, and nobody really gets tired. It just keeps going.

NORRIS: Fishermen are notoriously superstitious. So is there anything that you're doing in the last days and hours leading up to the opener to make sure that you have a good catch?

Mr. WETROSKY: Well, the main thing I do is check my line because broken lines usually result in more lost fish than anything. And I think a lot of fishermen are superstitious about making sure that they're ready when they go to the water. You might have a once-in-a-lifetime-sized fish, and you don't really want to lose that by the side of the boat.

So I've heard of people taking rabbits' feet out and basically imploring the heavens for help and things like that. But most fishermen have their own little bag of tricks, and a lot of them keep them kind of private where nobody else really knows what they're doing.

NORRIS: Mr. Wetrosky, thank you very much.

Mr. WETROSKY: You're welcome.

NORRIS: Good to talk to you.

Mr. WETROSKY: Same here.

NORRIS: That was John Wetrosky. He's a former fishing guide based in Pine River, Minnesota.

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