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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fishing Opener Update

Many guests have inquired about the early fishing opener update. In the event the opener is changed...we'll be ready. However, it appears unlikely at this point. Here a recent message from Joel Carlson with the Congress of Minnesota Resorts:
 

An early Minnesota fishing opener appears much less likely, following a hearing at the Capitol Monday morning, April 16.

The House already has voted to move the opener to May 5, a week ahead of the May 12 date mandated by state law.

The mild winter, followed by early and record ice-outs at many lakes, had prompted the state's key game fish, walleye, to spawn early, raising a belief that an earlier opener wouldn't harm the state's prized fishery.

However, the recent cold spell - accentuated by a dumping of snow throughout much of the state - has thrown cold water on the fish's plans, as well as those of lawmakers.

At an informational hearing Monday morning, several senators from both parties, including the Republican chairman of the environment committee, said they would not support changing the official opener, which affects walleye, northern pike, lake trout and bass.

"I was very open to this three weeks ago," said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, referring to when lawmakers from both parties floated the idea in advance of the House approving the change from the floor with no hearings. "Now that I've seen the weather and heard from (biologists) and constituents, certainly I'll be strongly against it on the Senate floor, should it even come to a vote."

Previously in the hearing, Dirk Peterson, chief of fisheries for the Department of Natural Resources, said that while the early spring had set spawning in motion at a record pace, activity hassince dropped off significantly. Now, he said, the spawning activities of many game fish, including walleye, appear to be on pace with a normal year.

When spawning, many fish, especially walleye, are extremely vulnerable to being caught at the crucial time when they're trying to reproduce. One of the reasons the Minnesota opening date is scheduled when it is is to allow the fish time to spawn successfully and recharge the fishery.

Wisconsin's opener is May 5, but that date would have been the earliest in Minnesota since the late 1940s.

The notion of an early opener was not without detractors from the start.

Many resort owners and fishing guides opposed the opener for a variety of reasons, including getting resorts ready and accommodating late booking changes by clients.
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posted by Nick Leonard at

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