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Fishing season off to slow start; DNR lures new groups to the water

May 17, 2019 05:59PM ● By Editor
Jim Jahnke holds a northern pike he caught and later released on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea, Minn., on the 2019 fishing opener on Saturday. Photo:  Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

By Joan Choi of Minnesota Public Radio News - May 17, 2019

Minnesota endured another long — seemingly never-ending — winter with some locations receiving a record amount of snow. And in the same week northern Minnesota saw more than 10 inches of snow in May, the Land of 10,000 Lakes celebrated its 2019 fishing opener last Saturday. 

It was the first day of the year when the state allows anglers with a license to catch walleye, northern pike, lake trout and many other fish found in lakes and rivers across Minnesota. However, lower-than-average temperatures and high water on rivers this spring discouraged some Minnesota anglers from getting out for the start of the fishing season. 

"The reports that I've been hearing from various places around my region are that the fishing was a little tougher this opening weekend because of that colder water," said Brian Nerbonne, the state Department of Natural Resources's central Minnesota fisheries manager. "Bigger rivers like the Mississippi and the St. Croix, which are very popular fisheries in themselves, they've got a lot higher water and that really has changed the conditions out there."

In northwestern Minnesota, late ice-out and freezing nights in early May also made fishing on the opener challenging, said Henry Drewes, the DNR's northwestern Minnesota fisheries manager. 

"Water temperatures this season on the May opener were very cold — typically 42 to 45 degrees across much of northern Minnesota," he said. "So, that made for some very cold water and in some places some very tough fishing."

According to the Minnesota DNR, the number of fishing licenses sold by the Friday before the opener decreased by 5 percent this year from last year. Opening weekend sales dropped even more — by 12 percent from last year. The DNR said 42,338 licenses were purchased over the opening weekend this year. 

"We were a little bit worried that there wasn't as many licenses sold a week ago [compared to] this time last year," said Jack Lauer, the DNR's regional fisheries manager for southern Minnesota. "And again we had another cool to colder April, lower than normal temperatures — and people start to think about other things [than fishing.]"

To read more of the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the MPR website.

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