Minnesota’s mild winter, early spring, bring good news to anglers, hunters and campers

The unusually early start to spring following a weirdly mild winter is good news for fans of the Great Outdoors across Minnesota.

The early disappearance of ice from lakes and rivers means spawning should finish early, and that could kick start the walleye season, which opens May 12. Winter was kind to wildlife, which bodes well for hunting. State parks are already drawing campers.

Mille Lacs Lake, the first big walleye lake north of the Twin Cities, saw its earliest ice-out in recorded history on Monday, breaking the record of April 2, 2000.

“I’m looking for it to be great — probably one of our best openers for a long time,” said Terry McQuoid of McQuoid’s Inn in Isle. “… May and June ought to be the most fun we’ve had for a while, and last year was really good.”

Rick Bruesewitz, area fisheries supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources in Aitkin, said Mille Lacs’ fish population is looking good.

“The fish will be well past spawning by the time the fishing opener approaches,” Bruesewitz said. “So they might be in a different location than anglers normally observe.”

On Lake of the Woods, the state’s northernmost lake, Paul Arnesen at Arnesen’s Rocky Point Resort said he’s never seen the ice go out so quickly so he’s anticipating a strong opener. “It’s going to push everything up,” Arnesen said.

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