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Your Tackle Box for the 2013 Minnesota Fishing Opener

Minnesota has the highest boat registration per capita of any state in the nation, and about 600,000 fishing licenses are sold in the state each year.

Minnesota’s walleye season officially opens at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, and forecasts call for clear skies with morning lows in the 30s and afternoon highs in the 50s. Sunday, also Mother’s Day, should be mostly clear with highs in the low 60s. 

Read an overview of the metro area fishing outlook here.

Heading out to a local lake? Try these metro area stores for any gear you need:

    • Dick's Sporting Goods (Locations include: Richfield, Minnetonka, Burnsville and Roseville.
    • Sport's Authority (Locations include: Richfield, Burnsville and Roseville.)
    • Gander Moutain (Locations include: Eden Prairie, St. Paul and Lakeville.)
    • Diamond Lake Ace Hardware (live bait)
    • Settergren Ace Hardware (live bait)
    • Nicollet Ace Hardware (live bait)

    If you're specifically heading to the Lake Minnetonka area, here are a few local favorites there:

    • Kirby's Bait
    • Wayzata Bait & Tackle
    • Big Island General Store

    Fishing licenses are required for all anglers and can be purchased at most gas stations, bait shops and sporting goods stores.

    Minnesota is the nation’s leader in fishing participation (28 percent of residents age 16 or older buy a license, according to the Department of Natural Resources). About 500,000 anglers typically hit the water on opening day, and about 1.4 million people buy Minnesota fishing licenses each year.

    Looking for an access point to your favorite lake? A map illustrating all of Hennepin County's public access points is attached to this post. Click here to view access points in a table format. A new lake finder mobile app is also available and can be downloaded by clicking here.

    While the ice has gone out on most Metro lakes, anglers who have traditionally headed north for the first weekend of the season should check ice conditions and the availability of public water accesses and roads leading to them.

    Minnesota's general fishing opener is the Saturday two weeks before Memorial Day weekend. Why? Three main reasons:

    1. It allows most walleyes to spawn before being caught by anglers
    2. It ensures that the opener is on a weekend, when most anglers can fish
    3. This date ensures two full weekends for anglers and businesses before the Memorial Day weekend.

    Unseasonably late ice out dates have resulted in potentially dangerous water temperatures on most Minnesota lakes, and safety officials are urging anglers to take extra precautions before heading to their favorite fishing hole. A 2007 report by the U.S. Coast Guard stated that a boating accident is five times more likely to be fatal if the water is colder than 60 degrees.

    Falling into cold water can cause an immediate involuntary gasp for air and the shock of the icy water can also cause cardiac arrest, even for people in good health.

    The DNR has a few tips for safe and responsible boating:

    • State law requires a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for each person on board all watercraft.
    • All children under 10-years-old are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while a boat is underway.
    • Alcohol and boating don’t mix.
    • If a watercraft becomes swamped or capsized, try to reboard or stay with the craft.

    So what do you need to know before wetting your first line of the season?

    First, understand your role in preventing the spread of invasive species. From zebra mussels and carp to milfoil and curly leaf, the state is cracking down on boaters who don't follow proper invasive species protocols. In fact, fishermen can expect to be checked and cited this weekend for aquatic invasive species violations. Lakes Harriet, Nokomis and Calhoun will have specialists on hand to check boats from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the season.

    READ: Public Boat Launch Opens at Lake Harriet

    If you're looking to wet a line close to home, you won't have to look far. From the deep waters of Lake Minnetonka to shore fishing on the banks of the St. Croix or Mississippi, the metro area offers great fishing close to home.

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