By Jeff Ledermann, angler and hunter education and skills team supervisor
So you might have heard that fishing is a big deal in Minnesota. Maybe you’ve even thought it sounds kind of fun. Then reality sets in and here comes the list of chores, hassles and other plans – all those reasons we end up watching beautiful vistas through our friends’ social media feeds instead of enjoying Minnesota’s great outdoors ourselves.
Well I’m here to tell you, you can fish and I’m here to stoke your fear of missing out. That’s right, chores and other plans will always be there. But not the fishing.
No, it’s not mandatory that you fish. Nobody is forcing you to get out and see beauty in Minnesota so striking that it takes your breath away – lakes, streams, rocks and forests that are better in person despite any after-the-fact social media filter. That loon that swims by won’t notify you when it’s going to do that again. The turtle may continue to sit on a nearby log, but then how would you know? And then there’s you – how do you know what your problems will look like with the perspective you gain in a day of relaxing on the water with some peace and quiet?
The paradox is that fishing is about more than catching fish. And for people who do catch fish, many find it’s all they think about this time of year.
Out of the 1.4 million licensed anglers in Minnesota, about half a million take part in the great annual tradition of fishing opener, this year on Saturday, May 12. Of course, “fishing opener” is a bit of a misnomer since fishing remains open all year for many species including popular and fast-biting species like bluegill or crappies.
Fishing opener marks the day fishing can begin for walleye, northern pike and trout in lakes. But it’s more than that. For many, fishing opener is a time to be with family and friends, reminiscing on old memories and making new ones. For others, fishing opener is the first chance to feel that tug on the line and the excitement and anticipation to see what is on the other end. That first fish fry is the hope for some who aim to bring home a healthy and tasty meal of fish they catch and prepare themselves.
You can even pat yourself on the back for fishing. It’s good for Minnesota. Fishing supports local businesses and rural economies. And purchasing licenses, fishing equipment and boat fuel supports conservation. That’s because license sales and federal excise taxes on fishing equipment and boat fuel fund the majority of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ basic fish management and fishing programs that help continue great fishing for future generations.
I hope you don’t miss out on great fishing during the opener or sometime this summer, and make some new memories with old and new friends. If you want to start fishing, I encourage you to ask someone who does if they’ll take you along. You can check out mndnr.gov/fishmn for what you need to get started.