‘It’s about getting a line wet, catching something’

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Priscilla Zobel of New Ulm fishes on Sleepy Eye Lake Saturday afternoon. Mothers who are Minnesota residents can fish without a license during Take a Mom Fishing Weekend through Sunday, May 12.

SLEEPY EYE — Lyle Zobel of New Ulm watched his wife Priscilla and son Erik catch and release small fish from a bench on the northeast corner of Sleepy Eye Lake Saturday afternoon as a strong wind kept him cool.

“Today’s about getting the line wet and catching something,” Zobel said. “I really love the park improvements. I’ve been coming here about 20 years. This is a great lake for largemouth bass. I don’t have to go a couple hundred miles to fish. When I come to Sleepy Eye for business, I put a couple fishing rods and bait in the truck and come to the lake.”

Zobel said he enjoys fishing Sleepy Eye Lake plus Lake Hanska, Clear Lake and Lake Washington most often.

“Catch and release is fine, unless we get a big one,” Zobel said. “A few years ago, my son Erik left his rod dangling in the water on the Sleepy Eye Lake fishing dock and he hooked a seven or eight pound walleye that came underneath the dock and bit on his bait. It really surprised the heck out of us.”

Angel Munoz of Fairfax and his son-in-law Austin Rogers of Mankato fished from shore on the south side of Sleepy Eye Lake late in the morning but didn’t catch anything.

“People told us some nice bass were caught from shore near the culvert on the eastern edge of the lake between 8 and 9 a.m.,” Munoz said. “I may try Lac qui Parle Lake (near Madison) when it warms up next week. I’ve caught some big walleyes up there. I also like Minnesota River fishing. I caught a 35-pound catfish there once.”

Munoz said one nice thing about Sleepy Eye Lake are the permanent benches on the east side of the lake that can be used to fish from.

Other Sleepy Eye Lake fishermen reported catching sunfish that they released back into the lake.

The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener was held in Albert Lea with a free community picnic featuring Smokin Bros. barbecue in downtown Albert Lea. Posted photos included a young boy catching a nice-sized Northern. For the most part, a slow bite with cold water was reported from that area.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that walleye angling last winter was good on Round Grove Lake, near Stewart. The lake was used by the DNR for rearing fingerling walleye, for statewide stocking quotas.

The lake has not had a winter kill since 2014, so there are a lot of carry over fish (11 to 12 inches, and some 18 inches) to be had.

For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/19_fishing_opener.html