Here’s what to know about walleye ahead of this year’s fishing opener

2023 Minnesota fishing opener outlook

2023 Minnesota fishing opener outlook

The countdown is on for Minnesota’s long-awaited fishing opener, and there’s one catch that’s prized by almost everyone: our state fish, the walleye.

Walleye are found in plenty of lakes across Minnesota and are known for their fight and flavor.

“Because it’s a really good fish to eat, we all know that,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “But it’s also kind of representative of the state. And that goes back to the native peoples. ‘Ooga,’ as it’s known in some of the native languages. And it’s something that just screams Minnesota.”

But walleye can be finicky early in the season, especially in cold water, which is going to be the case in northern Minnesota. So if you’re not having luck, the DNR suggests trying something different, like finding shallow water and fishing for panfish.

“I don’t care what I catch. As long as I was full on on my line, I don’t care what it turns out to be,” Parsons said. “So have fun with that as well.”

Parsons says anglers in search of advice can call their local conservation officer or check in with a bait shop.

Walleye season starts with the open-water fishing opener on Saturday. The DNR announced relaxed possession limits compared to past years on two of the state’s most popular lakes for walleye fishing: Upper Red Lake and Mille Lacs Lake.

Anglers on Upper Red Lake will be able to take home up to five walleye — but only one longer than 17 inches — during this year’s open-water season. On Mille Lacs Lake, each person can take home one walleye between 21-23 inches in length or longer than 28 inches throughout the season.

Full fishing regulations can be found on the DNR’s website.