Anglers who hoped for an early start to the walleye season will likely have to wait until May 12, DNR fisheries management chief Dirk Peterson said Tuesday.
The mild winter and record warm temperatures in March led some to wonder if walleye would begin spawning earlier than usual, which would allow for an earlier fishing opener. But a string of cold days, particularly in northern Minnesota, has slowed down the run, Peterson said.
"At this point in time, and as we know, it's difficult to predict the weather, and things could go up and down, but as we're speaking, things have normalized somewhat," Peterson said.
A proposal by state lawmakers to move the state's walleye fishing opener up by a week, from May 5 to May 12, is expected to be voted down Tuesday in the state Senate.
The timing of spawning is related to water temperature and the number of hours of daylight, Peterson said. "We had a very hot March, and we thought we were going to see an early run," he said. But recent cold weather has slowed down the run.
"When we look at long-term averages, we're approaching our normal spawn taking season," he said.
Although the news is likely to disappoint some anglers hoping for an early start to the walleye fishing season, Peterson said the mild winter will still benefit anglers.
"This will probably be a good year because we'll have probably overall generally warmer temperatures, good growth, and we'll get the spawning done in time for anglers to enjoy them," he said.
Unless the state Legislature votes to change the date, the walleye fishing season in Minnesota will begin May 12.
Peterson discussed the situation with MPR's Cathy Wurzer on Morning Edition. Click on the audio link above to hear th whole interview.