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Warm Spring Could Move Fishing Opener Up A Week

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a spring tradition in Minnesota, and this year’s fishing season may be starting a week early.

The State Legislature is talking about moving the opening date from May 12 to May 5 due in part to our warm spring. This could make anglers, businesses and mothers pretty happy.

It surely might since many die hard anglers could get out on the water a week earlier and not have to choose between fishing and Mother’s day. If the legislation passes, it would become the earliest statewide fishing opener in 75 years.

Any Minnesota angler worth their Rapala knows it’s never too early to get a boat on the water. Our unusual spring just might mean fishing walleye a week earlier than normal.

“We’d probably be out crappie fishing anyways so if we could fish for walleye – cool,” said angler Jeremie Swenson.

Swenson and his grandfather are pumped over the news that opening fishing could begin the weekend of May 5.

Crane Lake State Representative David Dill said the abnormal spring has sped up the walleye spawning, so there’s no need to wait until the second weekend of May to protect the fish.

“It’s created this unique opportunity to get a bonus week of fishing and people out enjoying their cabins and to spend a little more time honoring their moms,” said Dill.

Mother’s Day almost always lands on opening weekend, so earlier fishing could take away angler’s guilt. The traditional Governor’s Fishing Opener on May 12 will remain unchanged.

“So we’re all for getting out and getting a little extra time on the water,” said angler Bill Sahly.

Fishing a week early might solve the Mother’s Day dilemma for some, but for Sahly, opening on May 5 creates another problem.

“Except for the anniversary. It’s a dilemma it’s our 45th wedding anniversary, so I invited her up to fish camp of course,” Sahly said.

The DNR is watching this very closely, in part because they need to carefully manage the harvest of walleye on lakes like Mille Lacs since it’s shared with Native Americans.

Too many fish caught in the extra week of fishing could mean tighter limits later in the season. That all depends on how many people take advantage of it, but spokesman Chris Niskanen said it could be anywhere from 5,000 to 60,000 more pounds of walleye.

Currently, the state has no room to increase its quota on Mille Lacs.

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