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Nothing like last year: Anglers should expect low water levels for fishing opener

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Overall, conditions are looking pretty good for the fishing opener May 9, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says, although anglers may encounter low water levels on some lakes and rivers.

Last year there was the question of whether the ice was going to be off the lakes in time for the opener, which was followed by unusually high water levels that led to dangerous conditions on many state waterways.

This year seems to be the complete opposite, ABC Newspapers says.

Early ice-out, dry weather

Area lakes saw a slightly earlier-than-normal ice out, and water levels on many lakes throughout the state are below normal following recent dry conditions – over 92 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions.

Lower lake levels could cause issues for people trying to launch larger boats, WCCO reports, and there may be hazards lurking in lakes that aren't normally a problem when water levels are normal, ABC Newspapers notes.

“All of our lakes are pretty low right now,” Chris Kavanaugh, DNR area fisheries manager in Grand Rapids, told the Star Tribune.

The lack of snowfall this winter and limited rain this spring has increased the shoreline on many Twin Cities lakes by up to several feet, WCCO notes. And anglers on Rainy River and Upper St. Croix River have noticed water levels are at mid-summer levels – the time when rivers are at their lowest, the Bemidji Pioneer notes.

Plan ahead

This has DNR officials suggesting anglers contact their local DNR office for information about water levels and boat access, noting it may be smart to have a plan B for the fishing opener.

Despite a few challenges, DNR officials say it'll be a successful weekend for the state's 1.5 million anglers, as well as resorts, bait shops and other fishing businesses, compared to the last two icy openers, the Star Tribune notes.

Haven't ironed out your fishing opener plan yet? The DNR has some tips on the best lakes around the state to net a walleye or northern pike opening weekend. For more information on the fishing opener, click here.

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