Pandemic puts new twist on Minnesota fishing opener

Thousands of Minnesota anglers are launching their boats and casting their lines for this year’s fishing opener. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking people to stay closer to home and to follow health guidelines this year.

Of the regulations, the DNR says only to get in a boat with immediate household members and maintain a minimum of 6 feet from other boats at all times. They’re asking the public not to boat with friends or extended family and to not tie boats together.

“It’s definitely different, it is a different feel,” said Chris Yeamen, who lives in Edina.

During the fishing opener on Saturday, it’s hard to forget the pandemic.

“Usually you see more DNR activity at the access, and that’s not here this year,” said Paul Julien, who lives in Golden Valley.

At the dock near the Minnetonka-Wayzata border, many still felt optimistic.

“It was quieter today. We were surprised there weren’t as many people out here,” said Amanda Hohag, from Minnetonka. “It was nice to be somewhere we didn’t have to worry about distancing so much … we saw a handful of boats in the area that we were in, and that was about it.”

“It is one thing about being out on the water, it’s a long boat, it’s more than 6 feet apart, so my father and I can go out and enjoy the day and still be socially responsible,” Yeamen said.

“The question is even going out sometimes, you lock yourself in the quarantine then you come out and see all these cars and all these people and it’s like, ‘Is it worth it?’ But it’s opener, so you got to get out here,” said Terrel Barnes from Bloomington.

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday wished everyone a good season.

“Wish everybody luck on the fishing opener, I know it’s not the usual one, you can still get out close to home … and hopefully if you don’t have any luck you can get some good stories,” Walz said.