Anglers, DNR prepare for Minnesota fishing opener

Anglers, get your gear and bait ready – the Minnesota fishing opener is Saturday.

Gov. Tim Walz will be one of the half a million Minnesotans expected to take to the lakes this weekend.

The official governor’s fishing opener will be on the Leech Lake Reservation this year.

Friday, Walz will be near Cass Lake for a community celebration, and he is also expected to attend a send-off ceremony on East Seelye Bay Saturday morning.

After that, Walz will fish with Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame guide Tom Neustrom.

This weekend’s opener applies to fish such as walleye and pike, but those wanting to catch a musky will have to wait until June 4 for that opener.

Anglers fishing for walleye on Mille Lacs lake will only be able to take home one walleye this year- but only during the early and later parts of the fishing season.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) set a one walleye limit for the first two weeks of the season.

Walleye must be between 21-23 inches, or longer than 28 inches.

After the first two weeks, it will only be catch and release.

At the start of July, walleye fishing will be shut down to reduce hooking mortalities among the fish.

Catch and release fishing will resume in the third week of July.

Then, on September 1, the one-fish limit will return.

For those who will be fishing this year, the DNR wants to remind you to have a fishing license if you are at least 16 years old.

Anglers can get a yearly pass for just under $30, or you can get a day pass.

The DNR also says it’s always a good idea to wear a life jacket, and is required for children, but add that since the water is still cold due to the chilly spring, it is best to play it safe.

DNR officials say the fish will be in a variety of areas due to the cold water temperatures.

“So, as a result, the fish are probably going to be in some different habitats as well. Fish in the spring time – a lot of them – are spawning right as the ice goes off, or not too long thereafter, so for some of those northern Minnesota lakes where the ice literally just went out this week, those fish might be a little behind schedule,” said Brian Nerbonne, a DNR Regional Fisheries Manager. “So, the might be in some shallower habitats than you’re used to seeing. Also, because those areas of water warm up more quickly, so that’s where a lot of the forage fish are going to be, and so that’s where a lot of the predators are going to be that are chasing those forage fish too.”

If you catch a fish, we want to see your photos! CLICK HERE to upload your photos and videos from the opener.

This weekend’s weather looks to be sunny and mild, with a few showers possible Sunday. CLICK HERE to find your full forecast.

You can also find 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS’ guide for the fishing opener – which includes information on how to buy a license, links to the 2022 fishing regulations booklet, and how to report fish kills – by CLICKING HERE.