An Opener of Sorts…

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An odd opening weekend to say the least. A group of guys with a knack for catching fish, and apparently testing the social norms of rural life.

For the last 20 years I have ventured out on a Minnesota body of water for possibly one of the greatest days of the year. I can remember more sleepless nights attributed to a looming day on the water than due to St. Nick sliding on down the chimney. As March came to a close, many people were wondering if the ice would ever leave. The answer was a more optimistic, “It’s going to be late but we’ll have water by opener”, than what was being spoken in bait shops and bars all around Minnesota this last week. At last the glorious eve of opening day for our beloved state fish, the walleye! However, the day was dampened, a look at 371 would be nothing but depressing. It wouldn’t be the same, all the excitement, gone from the area.

I had no intentions of letting my spirit sink to the depths of ice covered lakes, and I wanted nothing to do with a sheet of ice covering my northern Minnesota home waters of Leech Lake.

Instead of jumping on 371 and heading into the pines, we took I90 west to the plains where the walleye season never ends. Now, I was disappointed there wasn’t going to be a traditional opener on deck but from what I was hearing from Platte Creek Lodge definitely lessened the pain. Walleyes, upon walleyes, upon walleyes.

Of course I wasn’t taking on the opener alone. Kegs, Joe, and my old man, Don were eagerly awaiting the chance to put some open walleyes in the boat. There isn’t a dull moment to be found in the truck ride into Platte South Dakota. It was filled with “would you rathers” which got even a little dicey for a young guy like myself, and of course Stevie Nicks.

Even though we were late into town, the local watering hole was beckoning. Kuip’s was hopping as country music poured over loud laughter while reeking of questionable decision making.

Things started off a little shaky as we ordered three brews, and then Joe rang out with a request for a Sierra Nevada, his beer of choice. It was almost as if the bar’s volume was flipped to zero and crickets began to chirp. The bartender had a puzzled face as she rattled off their list of light beers. Words get around fast as the next morning our host  Molly laughed saying “you guys weren’t at Kuip’s last night, were you?” Guilty as charged, and said she heard from the bartender about some group of guys fishing, asking for all sorts of weird drinks, and filbert nuts? It turns out word gets around even before we got out on the water, we were a notorious and formidable fishing team.

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The wind roared across the mile wide river gusting up to 30 DMPH. Wind speed in the Dakotas is much different than in Minnesota, hence the DMPH. Despite the wind, we were told to head north about 15 miles. Other than that, we didn’t have much of an idea where to stop and fish. We spotted a large rock structure jutting from shore, and it looked like more of a good windbreak than anything as we came off plane into the calmer waters. No more than a minute after the jig made contact with the bottom, the all too familiar ding ding of the drag during a hookset barely sounded over the howling winds. It turns out it was a common theme, as we gave our rods a workout all day. When we were sick of jigging we pulled Rapala’s and experienced similar results.  You couldn’t ask for much more from the fish, as they fit perfectly between the 15″ and 20″ mark. At 4 fish a piece, everyone was excited to restock their freezers after a long and frozen spring.

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Day two rolled around, with less wind and higher temperatures. The fish were still eager and willing, as we caught fish one after another, numbers seeming to rival the mighty Lake of the Woods.

It was an amazing trip and it felt great to get out to a different area, and put some fish in the boat. As the wind roars across Minnesota, many of the lakes should be opening up here very shortly, and you can expect some more great fishing reports.

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If you would like to fish the Missouri, this is the time to get out there. Platte Creek Lodge has great rooms, fish cleaning station, bait all on hand, and most of all amazing prices on lodging! There’s a map waiting of the exact spots to boat tons of Missouri River Walleyes!

Be sure to check them out at 


Ben Brettingen 

Avery Outdoors Pro-Staff

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