COVID-19 social distancing wasn’t a problem on the lakes, as cold rains limited boat traffic May 9

Thanks to Mother Nature, there was plenty of “social distancing” on the waters May 9, when walleye fishing season opened.

With cold rains falling and the wind blowing at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, there were only a handful of vehicles and trailers in the typically busy southwest Pelican Lake boat landing.

Scanning big Pelican Lake there wasn’t a boat visible on the water. Mother Nature must have responded to the COVID-19 virus call for social distancing, because her spring fury created plenty of chilly reasons to stay away from the lakes, and avoid crowded fishing boats.
For the few that braved rains of Saturday, it is unclear whether the fish were also social distancing—from the anglers.

A trio of young fishermen stopped at Lakeland General Store Saturday morning, and they managed to catch three walleye between about 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., fishing Franklin Lake. They also wrestled about a dozen northerns—all snake-sized specimen.

“It was brutal out there. Cold, sleet…even snow,” said Jayden Gruba. He was fishing with Nate Bujarski and Neil Udden; all three are from the Becker, Minnesota, area.

They caught the fish on shiner minnows—which was a precious commodity.

Lakeland had a run on shiners.

At Park Region Cooperative, they completely sold out of at least two gallons of shiners by 4 p.m. on Friday, ahead of the opener, said Lori Haick.

Park Region was re-stocked with shiners Saturday morning, but only a half-gallon.

“We’re rationing the shiners—limiting customers to one dozen each,” said Park Region’s Amanda Kugler.

Lakeland’s shiner delivery Thursday sold out by Saturday morning. Lakeland showed more than 50 sales of shiners. They also began a dozen limit per customer.

“Our goal was to get as many out as we could—rather than one boat with all the shiners,” said Mary Nyquist, Lakeland.

Not a single angler came in for a photo with their catch, which has been a tradition at Lakeland.

According to various reports, the few fishermen who went out didn’t last long. “A few people caught fish, but then they quit because of the cold and rain,” said Nyquist.