Ice off just in time for fishing opener

By Brenda Erdahl

You could say spring is cutting it close this year with ice officially off of Maple Lake on Thursday evening, May 3, giving anglers and others just a little over a week to prepare for the big fishing opener on Saturday, May 12.

It could be one of the latest, if not the latest spring thaws on the record books according to local fisherman Joe Rassat.

With snow still on the ground well into April, Maple Lake city crews didn’t get out to the boat landing for their annual repairs until the last week of April, according to Public Works Director Jerry Sawatzke. Annual chores at the landing off Highway 55 east of the city involves repairing buckles and cracks in the concrete ramps caused by the cold temperatures and ice and putting in the dock.

“I wasn’t worried,” Sawatzke said of the late thaw. “We’ve have always gotten the dock out before opener.”

The late ice off also prevented the city’s new fishing pier going into the water, but Sawatzke expects to finish that job this week, also in time for opening day.

“The Pier is a little bit different (than the dock), it’s a lot bigger,” Sawatzke said.

The City acquired the used pier last fall with financial help from the Maple Lake Lions and the Maple Lake Lake Property Owners Association. The 85- foot long pier is handicap accessible with a 40-foot wide area at the end to accommodate anglers. It will be located west of the landing area near the picnic tables.

As to what anglers can expect when they wet their lines this opener, Rassat spoke to that. He’s been fishing area lakes his entire life and has worked in the fishing industry 37 years. He is currently the owner of Rassat Outdoor Group in Maple Lake.

Rassat predicted the late ice off will affect fishing to some extent, but mostly it will affect the search for bait. The majority of bait shops get their supply of leaches and minnows from Northern Minnesota lakes, he said, lakes that are traditionally even slower to open than the ones around here.

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