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EOT fishing was slow, rainy...but governor lucked out for opener

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Fishing conditions for the 2008 fishing opener varied from mild to miserable--almost from one county to the next.

While most anglers in the East Otter Tail were pelted with rain--and even a sleety-snow concoction--Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty had a fairly pleasant Saturday morning in the boat.

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"Conditions were terrible over here," said Tom Adamczyk, of Perham's Gene's Sport Shop, describing the grim weather for most of Saturday on Big and Little Pine, Rush, Otter Tail and other area lakes.

Meanwhile, a couple counties to the east--about an hour-and-a-half as the blue heron flies, at Breezy Point Resort--Mother Nature was kind to the gathering of nearly 400 at the Governor's Fishing Opener.

Temperatures and winds were mild, essentially from midnight until noon at Breezy Point. So, Gov. Pawlenty, the entourage of legislators, state officials and media from throughout the nation fished in relative comfort all morning. Rep. Dean Simpson, R-New York Mills, was among the area legislators fishing at the opener in the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point area.

Not that the catching was necessarily a whole lot better on Pelican Lake than it was here in East Otter Tail. But, at least over in Crow Wing County, the rain and wind held off until Saturday afternoon.

Water temperatures remain cold throughout central Minnesota, with the ice going out as little as a week before the opener on many lakes.

"The water temperatures weren't even 50 yet...47, 46 degrees or even lower," said Adamczyk. "It's just too cold....We need some warm weather, but until then, we're going to see a lot of fishing in the shallows for the next couple weeks."

Earlybirds had most fishing success

In both the East Otter Tail and Breezy Point area, the hardcore anglers who hit the shallow waters at the stroke of 12 were perhaps the most successful.

"The guys who went out at midnight were catching them where the river came in or went out of Big and Little Pine Lake," said Adamczyk. Shiner minnows, on jigs or Lindy rigs, were producing fish on the Pines and Rush--mostly in 9-10 feet of water.

Those fishing very early in the morning with Rapalas, casting in toward the shore, were having success in East Otter Tail, and at Pelican Lake at the Governor's Opener.

On the Pine Lakes, Adamczyk had several reports of catching five walleyes--but keeping only one, because they had to release the 18 to 26 inchers under the DNR's slot limits.

Weather drove some visitors into town--to shop

From a business perspective, traffic into the Perham area appeared down initially, said Dan Schroeder, Perham Area Chamber of Commerce director.

"But by Saturday afternoon, the downtown was very busy," said Schroeder. "There were a lot of people downtown...probably because of the weather."

Lunkers reported on smaller, less-known lake

There was an unconfirmed report of some anglers catching an eight-pound walleye, a nine-pounder and a few five-pounders on a smaller--and of course--undisclosed lake.

Rev. Dirk Currier heard this report while members of his congregation visited boat landings from the Pine Lakes to Rush to Otter Tail. Members of the Perham Northwoods Assembly of God Church distributed about 200 "outreach bags," which included treats and Christian devotional literature.

Currier also noticed that those on smaller lakes, and wearing waders in the shallows, did better than those on the big water--no doubt because of the warmer water temperatures.

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