Doing the Minnesota fishing opener [video]
Out of the 1.4 million licensed anglers in Minnesota, about half a million will take part in the tradition of the fishing opener, which this year falls on Saturday, May 11.
Fishing opener marks the day fishing can begin for walleye, northern pike, and trout in lakes. Fishing remains open all year for many species including popular and fast-biting fish like sunfish and crappies. The season kicks off in conjunction with the annual Governor’s Fishing Opener, this year being held in Albert Lea.
Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 4,500 of which are considered fishing lakes; the DNR LakeFinder provides detailed information about these lakes. There are over 16,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams in Minnesota, including 3,800 miles of trout streams. Although not every kind of fish lives everywhere, 162 species of fish can be found in Minnesota waters.
Fishing contributes $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in direct retail sales, ranking Minnesota third in the nation for angler expenditures, according to this 2011 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service national survey. Fishing supports nearly 35,500 Minnesota jobs, according to Sportfishing in America, January 2013, produced by Southwick and Associates.
(Video courtesy of Minnesota DNR)
Anglers looking for local information before fishing opener can find regional fishing reports for the entire state.
A summary of regulations that changed this year on specific lakes, including large lakes like Leech, Kabetogama and Lake of the Woods, is available here. Last year, new northern pike fishing regulations went into effect for anglers catching and keeping pike on inland waters. The pike regulations have three zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota. Maps, regulations and more information can be found at mndnr.gov/pike.
Anglers can buy fishing licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license. In most cases, Minnesotans don’t need a license when fishing in a state park. For more information visit mndnr.gov/state_parks/fishing.html.
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12, and fishing opener weekend doubles as Take a Mom Fishing Weekend. Mothers who are residents of Minnesota can fish without a license from Saturday, May 11, to Sunday, May 12. Fishing is allowed only for species that have open fishing seasons.
Cold water kills. Anglers are reminded to not just bring it – wear a life jacket. It’s the one action most likely to help in surviving a fall into cold water. Thirty percent of boating fatalities take place in cold water defined as generally below 70 degrees. In spring, this is typically from ice-out until early summer. The cold water shock “gasp reflex” can incapacitate even the strongest swimmer if they aren’t wearing a life jacket.