By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The pandemic was good for recreational fishing.

Researchers found more people fished in 2020, pointing to the activity as low-cost and low-risk.

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In Minnesota, there was a significant bump in fishing license sales, with more than 1.2 million were sold in 2020.

So, if you’re new to fishing – or if you have curious children – what do you need to know about Minnesota fish? WCCO’s Heather Brown answers your Good Questions.

What the biggest fish in Minnesota?

Lake sturgeon. In Minnesota, the largest recorded catch and release was a 78-inch, 120-pound lake sturgeon caught in the St. Croix River in 2019.

Do fish get bigger as they get older?

“Fish are like most animals,” said T.J. DeBates, DNR East Metro Area Fisheries Supervisor. “They grow most at young ages and then they reach a certain age and their annual growth gets smaller and smaller.”

(credit: CBS)

How many kinds of fish are in Minnesota?

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There are approximately 160 different species in Minnesota – from tiny darters to lake sturgeon.

How do you tell the age of a fish?

DeBates says there are many ways to age fish. Similar to counting growth rings on a tree, some fish show signs in their scales or ear bones.

What’s the most popular fish in Minnesota?

Many might consider the state fish — the walleye — to be the most popular.

“But, I’d say if you want to look at the number of fish that are caught, I’d probably say panfish, sunfish, blue gills, pumpkin seeds, crappies because there’s more of them out there and everyone likes catching a nice bluegill or a crappie,” he said.

Are the fish afraid of us?

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“These fish see a lot of lures and a lot of fishermen,” DeBates said. “When they see a boat or hear a motorboat go by, they know something is going on. I’d say they’re probably more scared of us than we are of them.”

Heather Brown