ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Anglers who flocked to northern Minnesota were greeted by icy lakes on Saturday, making for an unusual fishing opener that matched the unusually cold spring.
Ice-covered lakes in central and northern Minnesota was expected to cut into weekend business for resorts and bait shops, and even though there were optimists holding out hope that things would even out over time, business owners were feeling the pinch.
"Sad, sad, sad," Greg Thomas, owner of Gregory's Resort in Garrison, on the western shore of Mille Lacs, told the Star Tribune. "We've still got about 24 inches of ice out in the middle of the lake right now. It's just a bummer for me — I've got people canceling right and left."
"It's just nuts," he said. "In the 23 years I've been at this, I've never seen anything like it," he said.
He said he's hoping the late start will mean a stronger fishing season later in May and into June, when business tends to level off.
"It'll work out," said Bill Eno, owner of neighboring Twin Pines Resort & Motel. "I look at the opener like it's the first inning of a ballgame. We've got a ways to go."
Department of Natural Resources fisheries chief Dirk Peterson said this year marks one of the coldest, latest springs in Minnesota history. Still, he said, there will be plenty of opportunities to catch walleye.
Gov. Mark Dayton got an opportunity on opening day. The governor caught and released a walleye early Saturday near Park Rapids.