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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It will be a strange fishing opener Saturday with no restaurants open for dining; travel to the north discouraged; and without Gov. Tim Walz kicking it all off.

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But Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen says that doesn’t mean you can’t get out — just alter your game plan if you can.

Strommen loves to fish, and loves to be outdoors. But she understands this opener is different.

“The first thing, you know, we’ll let folks know is that we’re asking Minnesotans to fish close to home. That’s really important because travel is one of the ways that the COVID-19 virus spread, particularly to small communities that may have populations that are more virus vulnerable,” Strommen said.

No Governor’s Opener means family traditions are put on hold, but this may be time for a creative opportunity.

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“One of the traditions of the fishing opener is teaching the next generation, and I think this is a great opportunity to teach the next generation about protecting our fellow Minnesotans by fishing close to home,” she said. “We’re seeing definitely at lot of people turn to the outdoors and nature as a way to deal with the stress and anxiety of this time, so we do expect people to be out. But we’re asking people to find places close to home, and to find places that aren’t crowded.”

What it maybe means is to establish your own outdoor routine. In other words, be smart, but be active.

“We’re also seeing people enjoying the outdoors, and that’s great. As long as people do that close to home and with social distance, you know, we’re happy to see people understanding the value to our mental sanity to get outside,” she said.

A very different opener, but an opener nonetheless, and an opportunity to find new ways to fish, and new ways to contribute.

“Even if you don’t get out on opening day, [it] still contributes to great fish habitat and quality fishing experiences in Minnesota when we do get back out. And so I think those are pieces that people can take with them. And maybe folks will get out and they’ll try a spot and they’ll find a new favorite,” Strommen said.

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Mike Max