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minnesota department of natural resources

Minnesota Fishing

April 7, 2021

Stay informed! Here’s a summary of upcoming fisheries and habitat management activities and ways you can discover, explore and experience Minnesota’s outdoors.

walleye held by angler in canoe with kid in front

Fishing opener is May 15!

Fishing seasons open for walleye, bass, trout in lakes, and northern pike on Saturday, May 15, with this year’s date taking the prize for the latest possible opener under Minnesota statute.

Minnesota statute sets the fishing opener as the Saturday two weeks prior to the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. This year, with Memorial Day the latest it can be, on May 31, that puts the fishing opener on Saturday, May 15.

Details: DNR fishing page 

mom with kids fishing

Take a mom fishing May 8-9

This year’s Take a Mom Fishing Weekend — when Minnesota-resident moms can fish without purchasing a license — is Saturday, May 8, to Sunday, May 9. That special weekend is defined in Minnesota statutes as the weekend that coincides with Mother’s Day. Most years, under Minnesota law, the fishing opener and Take a Mom Fishing Weekend fall on the same weekend, but not this year.

Though the walleye season won’t be open, fishing is open for other species including crappie, sunfish, or even under-appreciated fish like buffalo, sucker, bullhead or sheepshead.

Anglers be aware: There is an error in the printed version of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations book regarding the dates for the 2021 Take a Mom Fishing Weekend. The correct dates are May 8-9. 

Details: DNR fishing page 

trout stream scene

Join this webinar for trout tips

Anyone interested in learning the basics of fly fishing, including tools to help find a fishing spot, can join a free webinar at noon on Wednesday, April 14. The webinar is part of an Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series from the DNR.

For details: Webinar registration pages

graphic with married combination license, full name, birthdate, social security number, driver's license number, and DNR logo

How to buy a married combination license

It’s the time of year when anglers are buying new fishing licenses. In a change this year, the DNR is requiring both spouses to provide and verify their DNR customer records for married combination licenses. If purchasing in person, both spouses must be present. This change brings DNR into compliance with state and federal laws, and help prevent licenses going to those with violations or unpaid fines.

For details: DNR married combination license page

taking eggs from a walleye by squeezing walleye and eggs going into a bowl

DNR resumes walleye egg take but public viewing closed

Biologists with the DNR will collect walleye eggs this spring; however, social distancing requirements mean this popular springtime activity will not be open for public viewing this year. Hatcheries, the destination for the eggs collected, also remain closed to the public.

Last year, DNR fisheries biologists did not collect walleye eggs because of COVID-related considerations. This year, egg collection procedures have been re-engineered to minimize close contact among employees.

Details: DNR news release

Mille Lacs Lake image of a map

Reminder about Mille Lacs fishing regulations

Early-season walleye anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be able to keep one walleye 21-23 inches long or one longer than 28 inches. Summer will bring catch-and-release walleye fishing, with a mid-season closure, before the potential for a one-fish limit returns in the fall.

The one-fish walleye limit will be in place from Saturday, May 15, through Monday, May 31. Walleye fishing will be catch-and-release from Tuesday, June 1, through Wednesday, June 30. A two-week closure — implemented to reduce hooking mortality — will be in place from Thursday, July 1, through Thursday, July 15. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will resume on Friday, July 16, and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 15.

After opening weekend, fishing hours on Mille Lacs Lake will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all species. Beginning Saturday, June 5, muskellunge and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches can fish after 10 p.m.

The one-fish walleye limit is scheduled to resume Thursday, Sept. 16, through Tuesday, Nov. 30. During the late season, the DNR also will allow anglers to fish from 6 a.m. to midnight.

For details: DNR Mille Lacs management page

person falling backward into cold water

Play it safe while boating

Many lakes and rivers throughout Minnesota are now ice-free, and those where ice remains likely will be open in the near future. People are understandably eager to hit the water, but it remains dangerously cold. That means it’s vital for people to exercise extreme caution whenever they’re on or around the water. Each year, about 30% of fatal boating accidents in Minnesota occur during the cold-water period.

As boaters begin taking their first trips of the year onto the water, they should:

  • Ensure their boat is equipped with proper safety equipment and that it’s all functioning properly.
  • Wear a life jacket (foam is more effective than inflatables during the cold-water season). A life jacket is the one thing most likely to help people survive a fall into cold water.
  • Distribute weight evenly and abide by manufacturer’s weight limits to reduce the likelihood of falling overboard.
  • Have a means of communication. Boaters also should let other people know where they’re going and when they plan to return.
  • Watch the weather to avoid shifting winds or storms.

For details: DNR cold water dangers page 

Find fishing information

You can find the information you need about learning to fish, regulations, where to fish, aquatic invasive species, contacting a conservation officer and more on the DNR fishing page at