Fishing Opener

The Minnesota fishing opener is here, but the coronavirus pandemic requires that Minnesotans approach it a little differently this year, including maintaining social distancing and fishing closer to home.

Fishing in Minnesota is a rite of springtime, and it has anglers on the water to wet a line, reconnecting with nature and benefiting from time spent outdoors.

The season is now open for walleye, northern pike, bass, and trout in lakes. Some fishing seasons are open all year for panfish and other species. Trout season in streams opened in April.

While beginning of fishing is a time-honored tradition, the coronavirus pandemic requires that Minnesotans approach it differently this year, said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen.

“We need for Minnesotans to fish close to home,” Strommen said. “This is not the time to travel long distances to fish since travel can spread the COVID-19 virus, particularly to rural communities that may have more virus-vulnerable populations.”

To help anglers and other people engaging in outdoor recreation determine what “close to home” means in the context of COVID-19, the DNR, in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Health, developed additional guidelines.

Following these guidelines will minimize potential opportunities for transmission:

  • No overnight stays.
  • Bring all needed supplies with you.
  • Only go as far as you can travel and return on a single tank of gas or single charge for EV drivers.

Strommen said these guidelines will help protect many rural communities that are home to older Minnesotans and American Indians, groups that have a higher incidence of underlying health conditions.

Many destination fishing spots are in and near these communities and anglers don’t just go to the boat ramp, but visit the convenience store, gas station and grocery store.

Small town residents use these same retail outlets and one viral transmission can have serious impacts on a rural community.

"Let’s remember that part of the fishing opener tradition is teaching the next generation," Strommen said. "Let’s teach them to protect our fellow Minnesotans by finding the many wonderful fishing opportunities we have close to home. It’s an important lesson that goes beyond fishing. We can have a great opener and stay safe."

Social distancing

Anglers also need to maintain appropriate social distancing by staying at least 6 feet from people from other households. This is essential at boat launches, shore fishing areas, and fishing piers.

Anglers planning to fish on the water also should only boat with those in their immediate household and maintain a minimum six-foot distance from other boats at all times. Beaching or rafting with other boats is not allowed.

When launching or loading a boat, boaters should give those ahead plenty of time and space to finish launching or loading before approaching.

The DNR is also encouraging anglers to buy licenses online, and then saving that license on your phone.

“You can feel good about spending money on a fishing license and walleye stamp because we use those dollars to improve fishing opportunities today and create better fisheries habitat and fish populations for the future,” said Brad Parsons, DNR Fisheries Section manager.

Licenses are available online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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