May 11 is the official opening of the 2013 fishing season in Minnesota. We talked with Royal Karels, Cragun’s on-site fishing guide for his tips for this year’s opener. Brainerd fishing guide Royal Karels is a fisherman’s fisherman. A Brainerd, Minnesota native, Royal has 70 years of fishing experience and is entering his 46th year of guiding.
Will the ice be off the lakes in time for the fishing opener?
Although the ice was officially off Gull Lake on March 26 last year, we have not been that fortunate this year. The latest historical ice off date was May 18, 1950. The ice will definitely be off for opener and I am looking forward to some cold water fishing.
Where will you be fishing on Gull for the opener and with what kind of bait?
I will be fishing on the north end of Gull, the A-Frame, Cobbins Bar and Grassy Point. I will be using a Lindy Rig and shiner and fishing in 6-15 feet of water.
How did you decide on those areas?
Historically this is where I have had the best luck for early May fishing. If any of the areas are really crowded, I will move on and try different spots but I will be fishing fairly shallow. Because of the cold spring – fish will not have moved out to the deep water yet.
When do you recommend hiring a guide vs. trying it on your own?
If you don’t own your own boat and/or have limited fishing equipment, a guide is great value. We do it all from finding the “hot spots”, setting up your equipment, helping to get the fish on board to cleaning the fish when it’s all done. If you want to spend your time fishing, this is the way to go.
What can you tell me about Gull Lake?
On Saturday morning of fishing opener, the Nisswa Chamber sponsors a pontoon that drives around the lake offering hot coffee and donuts to everyone fishing. The local beauty queens, with sashes and crowns, are onboard to help out. Definitely a treat! Gull Lake is one of the most popular fishing lakes in Minnesota. Gull is a 9,418 acre lake and has a maximum depth of 80 feet and about 30% of the lake is shallower than 15 feet. Water clarity is excellent. Walleye, bass and northern pike are all species that I fish for on Gull.
If I bring my own boat is there somewhere I can launch it, docking facilities and fish cleaning facilities?
Cragun’s Marina has an excellent launch area capable of handling boats up to 30 feet. They also have 22,000 feet of available dock space where you can tie-up your boat for no charge. Fish cleaning facilities are also available.