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The 140th walleye fishing season officially opens May 7 at Spirit Lake, East and West Okoboji lakes.
“The lake temperatures have been on a wild ride this spring, but the warm and sunny forecast this week should help improve fishing by the weekend,” said fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins. “When the weather has cooperated lakes in the area are seeing some very good walleye action.”
Walleye population assessments in the Iowa Great Lakes indicate very healthy numbers of large walleyes.
“We continue to see some very good numbers of broodstock sized fish (17 inches and greater) in the Iowa Great Lakes,” he said, adding that the smaller, harvest-sized walleye numbers are doing better and anglers will see some younger year-classes this year.
“On Spirit Lake, I predict anglers will catch quite a few 9-13 inch walleyes with the larger fish which is good news for later in this season and next year,” said Hawkins. “We’re also seeing some good numbers of 14-15 inch walleyes on East and West Okoboji.”
Like many of Iowa’s lake walleye populations, stocking success is highly variable with good year classes of walleyes occurring every 3-5 years. “Even when millions of walleyes are stocked, Mother Nature and other lake variables usually dictate how well a stocking will do,” he said.
Anglers heading to the lakes area for the opener will find cloudy conditions with temperatures in the upper sixties and a slight chance of rain.
A quick check of state park campgrounds in the area found many sites with electricity still available at Marble Beach, Gull Point and Emerson Bay.
Walleye season opens the first Saturday in May through February 14 each year. There is a protected slot limit on walleyes from 17 to 22 inches, with only one walleye over 22 inches allowed per day. The daily limit is three walleyes with a possession limit of six.
The Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce will host the 35rd annual Great Walleye Weekend Fishing Contest in conjunction with the opener. For more information on the contest, visit their website - www.okobojichamber.com.