Bait shops and resorts in the area suffered thanks to ice and cold winds during the 2013 walleye and northern pike fishing opener last weekend. Anglers willing to brave difficult weather conditions Saturday, May 11, saw very little success.
There was no shortage of small lakes with open water during opener weekend, but there were still some local fishing holes with limited fishing. Jim Tuller of Swanson’s Bait said Little Birch Lake was open, but the main lake was not. Dave Sheley of the Backus Corner Store said that though ice on Pine Mountain Lake was quickly melting, high winds had actually pushed all the remaining lake ice against the access at Rocky Dock. Furthermore, bigger lakes such as Ten Mile were still iced in.
Worse yet, Tuller and Sheley reported hearing of very little success from those who actually took a boat out on the water. However, some anglers weren’t completely out of luck.
“The ones on the rivers and creeks did fine. They caught some walleyes, but as far as the main lakes, I didn’t hear a lot happening,” Sheley said.
It seems that though Sheley and Tuller both faced a complete lack of shiner minnows and a limited supply of leeches, that was the least of their issues last weekend because there weren’t many anglers looking for leeches or minnows.
“We didn’t have many (customers) because we told most of them the lakes they wanted to fish were still frozen, and the few people that did come, some of them went towards Federal Dam and they did have some success,” Tuller said. “We had between 1,500 phone calls last week asking, ‘What’s the story now?’ and we kept telling them specifics by lakes, if they were out or not, and most of them didn’t change all week until Saturday when that big wind hit and things moved around. So our traffic was greatly reduced.”
“Not many people were looking for them (live bait). It’s probably just as well I couldn’t get them at the last minute because I would have overstocked,” Sheley said. “Hopefully this weekend there should be some shiners and larger leeches by then.”
Bait shops are not the only businesses that may have been impacted by the weekend’s cold temperatures. Four Seasons Resort Manager Lisa Wiese said the resort had absolutely no reservations for the weekend, though she said that is typical for the resort located on Jail Lake outside of Pine River. Wiese is hopeful for business during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.
“Usually we don’t have anybody for opening because it’s just too cold. Our big week is Memorial, then the place is packed,” Wiese said.