|Ice-out at Pipestone Narrows in years past. Photo by Joe Overman|
Depending on how fast that snow melts next spring, it could have very positive effects on northern pike and walleye populations in the future. Both species are spring spawners and benefit from seasonally high water caused by snow melt.
For pike, mildly flooded conditions around their spawning areas mean these fish will work their way right up into bushes such as Labrador tea that surround marshes. These places are normally above the water line and are entirely free of algae. Eggs that are deposited in such spots will not be smothered in algae or silt and therefore a higher percentage will develop.
For walleye, a large runoff means creeks and rivers will have higher water levels and the fish can travel further upstream, to areas that might have been high and dry and are also silt-free. There will also be a faster flow in these places, bringing more oxygen to the fertilized eggs.
Besides the amount of snow to melt, however, there are two other factors that have to align to create the perfect spring spawn. These are the actual period when the melt occurs and the temperature after spawning takes place.
Ideally, the snow will melt gradually throughout April, not like two years ago when the temperature soared to 70 F (22 C) in March and all the melt water spilled into lakes two months before the fish were ready to spawn.
Once the spawning takes place, May 1 to May 15, steadily warmer days will make the eggs develop rapidly. The fry can then depart the flooded areas before the water goes down.
So deep snow can lead to excellent fishing, with a bit of luck, in the years ahead.
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