Fishing opener May 9; angling contributes $4.7 billion to state economy
When Minnesota's fishing season opens May 9, an estimated 1 million anglers will take to the lakes in hopes of landing a walleye or northern pike.
Nearly 1 million more will join in as the year goes on.
ìFishing and Minnesota go hand-in-hand,î said Ron Payer, fisheries chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). ìMore than a million Minnesotans buy a fishing license. So do 300,000 visitors from out-of-state. Plus, we estimate a half-million kids who are not required to have a license, will fish from docks or from boats with mom and dad. Together, thatís about 2 million anglers.î
The lure of Minnesotaís fishing tradition is linked to 5,400 managed fishing lakes and thousands of miles of rivers and streams. Minnesota is a perennial top five national angling destination; it is tied with Alaska for the highest angling participation rate in the country, which is 28 percent.
ìOnly Florida, Texas and California - high population coastal states - have more licensed anglers than Minnesota,î said Payer. ìThat statistics speaks to the quality of our fisheries and the quality experiences people enjoy when they get outdoors.î
As much as fishing contributes to family fun, it also contributes to the stateís fiscal health. According to 2008 data from the American Sportfishing Association, fishing contributes $4.7 billion to Minnesotaís economy. Thatís the fourth-highest economic contribution in the nation. Equipment sales alone contribute $1.2 billion and nearly 44,000 Minnesotans hold fishing-related jobs, according to a 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report.
ìNo matter the economic times, people view a Minnesota fishing license as a good investment,î said Payer. ìThey know fishing memories never lose value, they only appreciate over time.î
Payer said fishing should be good again this year. The big lakes, which provide a bulk of the stateís walleye harvest are in good shape. The walleye limit has been increased on Upper Red Lake from three to four. Although catch rates vary from lake-to-lake based on predator and prey ratios, walleye populations are healthy in Mille Lacs, Winnibigoshish and our other noted walleye lakes.
This yearís Governorís Fishing Opener will be held at White Bear Lake in Ramsey County. The 2,416-acre lake is located in one of the nationís best urban fisheries as 258 lakes are managed for fish in the seven-county metro area.
ìAs good as the fishing is up north and in other parts of Minnesota, itís also darn good in the shadow of the Capitol,î said Payer. ìThirteen of Minnesotaís state record fish have been caught in the metro area. î
The statewide walleye and northern pike seasons opens May 9. The statewide largemouth and smallmouth bass seasons open May 23. The muskellunge season opens June 6. The fishing season is open for sunfish, crappie and several other species.
Payer offered the following advice to anglers:
- Review new fishing regulations. A notable change is that walleye and northern pike ìone overî limits now apply to both daily and possession limits.
- If you are traveling to a distant location, call ahead to make sure the boat landing is in good shape. Late ice-out or other factors can temporarily damage access sites.
- Help stop the spread of exotic invasive species. Drain water from livewells.
- Remove vegetation from boats and trailers. Empty bait buckets if traveling from one lake to another. Regrettably, zebra mussels have showed up in a Twin Cities lake and are abundant in Lake Mille Lacs. Every angler has a responsibility to help stop or slow down the spread of these unwanted species.
- Introduce someone new to fishing. Most people would gladly go fishing if they were asked. so share the fun.
- Wear your life jacket. Accidents happen. Most angling and boat fatalities when someone falls into water without a life jacket.
- Support local water quality and conservation efforts in your area. Be involved. Good fishing starts with clean water and is sustained by healthy spawning, nursery and cover areas.
- Consider purchasing the new walleye stamp. Though the $5 stamp validation is not needed to catch and keep walleye, proceeds are used to support walleye stocking. For $7 the DNR will mail the actual stamp to your door.