I thought this was a nice photo of 7 yr old Alex holding a nice “release” walleye. I love how the dorsal fin is standing just in front of his smile. Last week brought challenges to Ottertail Lakes Country fishermen. While some anglers on smaller lakes maintained pretty steady fishing—for most species, including walleye—the larger more popular “walleye” fisheries in the county have been difficult. Why? The cool down. Our water temps were very accelerated around the MN walleye fishing opener and crappie were spawning on many lakes, bass and sunfish were even beginning to crowd the shallows, and the shiner minnow spawn was well past the half way point (all of which were about 2 weeks early), and then suddenly, we had 10 days of below-normal temps and overcast skies and rain and everything went to heck. Most species held on for a week, but by mid-last week things really unraveled. Patterns for many species went adrift. I have 25 walleye rods laying out and ready in my boat because things are crazy all over the lakes—I never know what they’re going to want next so I’m constantly switching. Keep an eye out for rapidly changing patterns, and for sure, don’t refer back to last season’s calendar for help! This year is it’s own year, for sure. Despite the difficult changes and challenges of the peat weeks and it’s ugly weather, I saw some very nice walleye catches and a lot of upper-class release fish—too large to keep. The northern have been feeding well too. Shiners are still trying to spawn on several lakes in the county which draws predator species to shore lines and river mouths to feed on them. In the mean while, there are a lot of walleye and northern out and away from the shore lines using middle lake zones and really don’t need to feed on shiners anymore. Be sure and have leeches, crawlers, and minnows with this week. The weather sounds good and I anticipate positive changes and steadying patterns for all species. Once the water temps warm 2 or 3 more degrees, there will be a big up-swing in fishing and catching all around Ottertail Lakes Country. Good luck on the lakes this week. By Ross Hagemeister, meisterguideservice.com.