The wait for spring continues

It’s hard not to feel cheated by this weather, especially when you compare it with last April, when the ice was off lakes and rivers, and spring yard work was either in full swing or already completed.

I call the winter of 2012-13 “The Winter That Wouldn’t Get Here That Wouldn’t End.”

That pretty much sums it up.

The threat of another snowstorm prompted a friend and I to cancel a planned trip to the Rainy River this past weekend. As it was, the forecast cheated us, and we probably would have been home by the time the snow finally hit Grand Forks on Sunday night.

I’m ready to get in a boat again, and I’m still holding out for that opportunity yet this month.

Walleye season on Lake of the Woods, Rainy River and other Minnesota-Ontario border waters ended Sunday, but sturgeon season is open, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll be there in a couple of weeks to give the behemoths a try.

Also on the spring must-do list (if the ice ever melts) is a trip west to Devils Lake. With all of the snow that fell this winter in the Lake Region, the ditches and coulees that flow into the big lake are going to have substantial runoff and strong currents, which in turn should attract walleyes and northern pike in big numbers. I remember hearing reports and seeing photos from two years ago, when just about every ditch from Devils Lake to Cando, N.D., held fish.

Minnesota’s 2013 walleye opener (May 11) is now less than four weeks off, and I’m holding out hope for the possibility that I’ll be ice fishing. It happened in 1996, when four of us spent the opener on the ice about a mile off Graceton Beach on Lake of the Woods. We were thinking it was one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities at the time, but the way this year is going, I’m not so sure.

One thing is for sure — it’s going to be a long wait before the Red River is fishable. In Grand Forks, at least, the ice has barely started to break up, and with the barrage of water coming our way from points south, this year’s flood is going to be slow in subsiding. A fishing guide friend who watches water levels and historic trends closer than anyone I know is predicting it’s going to be mid-June before he gets his boat in the river and can start chasing catfish.

Last year, I caught my first catfish of the year on April 26.

Not this year. This year, it’s going to be closer to June 26.

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