BOW April/May Newsletter

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minnesota department of natural resources

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Newsletter

April/May 2021

Nancy Koep and Walleye

Minnesota Fishing Opener 

The fishing opener is Saturday, May 15 and is one of Minnesota’s great traditions. The opener is when you can fish for walleye, bass, trout in lakes, and northern pike. Now is the time to gear up and get ready to fish.

Learn to Fish

Learning to fish is both fun and easy. Spending time with someone who already fishes is the easiest way to learn to fish. In fact, most anglers learned to fish from a friend or family member.

If you’re interested in learning to fish on your own, there are plenty of resources that will have you fishing in no time. A great first place to start is the Minnesota DNR Learn to fish webpage. This page has information on where to fish, tips and tricks, and guides on how to fish for a particular species. Another great on-line resource is the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation website. Both sites provide excellent resources for learning how to fishing including videos and practical advice on everything from selecting bait to cleaning your catch.

Remember to purchase your fishing license prior to fishing. Licenses can be purchased through MN DNR Online License Sales webpage or through an approved vendor at your local sporting goods store. Please note that there are new requirements this year when buying a Married Combination License. Fishing season dates and the Minnesota Fishing Regulations handbook are available online at

Take A Mom Fishing Weekend

The dates for this year’s Take a Mom Fishing Weekend—when Minnesota-resident moms can fish without purchasing a license—are 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.

Even though the walleye season won’t be open, there are still plenty of fun and easy fishing opportunities for crappie, sunfish, or even under-appreciated fish like buffalo, sucker, and bullhead. Moms can fish free but need to follow all possession limits, which can be found on the fishing regulations webpage.


NEW! Women & Fishing Webinar, April 28

Learn about the Take A Mom Fishing Weekend and upcoming opportunities to learn to fish with this free webinar on April 28, noon to 12:45 p.m.

The webinar will start with opportunities to learn to fish through the BOW program. Pro-angler Nancy Koep will show how to rig your rod for pan fishing. As the owner of Koep's Bait & Tackle  in Glenwood she will also cover how bait shops can be a great resource to help you fish local lakes. Nancy will talk about her BOW Walleye Fishing Weekend program (read story below). The webinar will conclude with the president of Women Anglers of Minnesota, Michelle Morey, sharing opportunities for women anglers to connect with other women anglers to fish in Minnesota.

Register here for this free Take A Mom Fishing Webinar on April 28.

NEW! Kayaking the Mississippi Backwaters Webinar, May 12

State Park Naturalist, Sara Holger, will show a short video on the BOW program she holds titled Kayaking the Mississippi Backwaters. The video will show what kayaking is like in the backwaters, where to kayak, equipment needed and tips and tricks. Following the short video Sara will take your questions about kayaking the backwaters.

Register here for this free Kayak the Mississippi Backwaters Webinar on May 12 from noon to 12:30 p.m..

These webinars are part of a new Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series from the DNR, with quick, relevant information on upcoming events and skills. Each Wednesday at noon staff from the DNR and guest experts will spend 30 minutes discussing a variety of topics with time for questions at the end. The courses are free, but participants are required to pre-register. Registration with descriptions for the webinars are available at Upcoming topics include spring foraging, open water walleye fishing basics,  bass fishing basics and quality sunfish initiative. Recordings of the webinars will be available on the registration for future viewing.

Stream trout fishing opens statewide on April 17

Anglers have a new StreamFinder tool to find places to fish and a webinar to learn tips

Minnesota’s popular warm weather stream trout season opens Saturday, April 17. Brook trout and splake fishing also open April 17 on Lake Superior and its tributary streams.

Whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced trout angler, the DNR has new information on Minnesota’s trout streams and lakes available on its website. Modeled after the DNR’s popular LakeFinder tool, StreamFinder provides anglers with a description, species list, regulations and access information for trout streams throughout Minnesota. Anglers also will find helpful learning guides and fishing tips tailored to each of Minnesota's six trout fishing regions.

Anglers fishing on designated trout waters must have a trout stamp validation in addition to an angling license. Complete trout season details are available at

Women Classes Available

Three Rivers Park District offers a variety of recreation and nature education programs  including programming designed for women. Spring and summer offerings include activities such as archery, fishing, hiking, navigation, canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, outdoor skills, geocaching, and more. Programs are posted month-by-month, and registration opens mid-month for the following month’s programs. Find a list of open programs here or search open programs here.

Spring Lake Park and Wargo Nature Center are offering outdoor activities through their Women’s Summer Workshop series. Upcoming classes are paddle boarding on June 18, nature photography on July 8 and canoeing on August 18. These women-only workshops are a great way to learn or practice outdoor skills while meeting other women who love the outdoors. Registration is required at

Heidi Davies with Walleye

Walleye Fishing Weekend Program

by Heidi Davies

“I like to figure out the fish.” I heard a coworker say, some years ago, as he was looking forward to the walleye season ahead.

“Figure out the fish?” I asked.

“Don’t you just put the hotdog on a hook and they eat it?” asked another coworker.

He laughed at us, but at least didn’t make fun of us. And he likely thought it would be too much effort to explain what he meant. My fishing experience up to that point was pretty much the hotdog on the hook at the end of the dock for sunnies and perch experience. So what was so mysterious and challenging about fishing for walleyes? The BOW Women’s Walleye Weekend taught me that fishing is much much more than putting a hotdog on a hook. I learned that walleye fishing is a game of skill and chance with delicious rewards.

The 2017 Women’s Walleye Weekend that I attended was hosted at Peters Sunset Beach on Lake Minnewaska, and instructed by Nancy Koep, along with other volunteer guides. We stayed in a comfortable condo unit and we each had our own room. We headed out Saturday morning with our guides – one or two students per guide. I was paired with Nancy, in her very well equipped Lund. I especially appreciated the shock absorbing seats on the windy day! In the boat, she instructed best depths to fish, lake topography, types of bait to use, methods, and when in doubt, follow the boats and the birds.

On shore, we had a formal instruction session. Nancy explained walleye lifecycle and behavior, their preferred environments, and what they usually eat (not hotdogs). Nancy showed us how different lures work, rigging rods, and how to hook minnows and leeches. She demonstrated how to properly land and handle a fish to decrease fish mortality when practicing catch and release. I may have had some remorse at that time about some not so properly landed sunnies and perch. Saturday evening we had a hands-on fish cleaning how-to, followed by a proper fish fry – fabulous!

Later that summer I was able to put those skills to good use showing up my husband during a trip to Kabetogema. At the mouth of the Ash River, using a jig and a leech just like Nancy taught me, I caught a nice 24 inch walleye. It was the largest catch of the day, no matter what my husband says. His biggest fish was certainly no larger than 23 ½ inches. But it’s not a competition, right?

Actually yes, it is a competition. Who gets the first fish, who gets the biggest, and who gets the most. It’s all in fun – there are no prizes, only bragging rights. Fishing is most of all, a good time on time on the water. And now that I know what it means to figure out the fish, it’s more fun than ever!

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program (BOW)

The BOW program provides hunting, fishing, and non-consumptive outdoor skills classes to women in a safe and supportive environment. BOW works cooperatively with DNR staff, volunteers and outside agencies to provide opportunities for women to learn skills. BOW is guided by a volunteer steering committee. To learn more visit the BOW Website

Do you want to stay informed about upcoming fisheries and habitat management activities and ways you can discover, explore and experience Minnesota’s outdoors? Sign up to receive Minnesota Fishing updates in your email inbox each week. You can find the information you need about hunting and trapping regulations, harvest registration, contacting a conservation officer and pursuing a variety of species on the DNR hunting page at

The DNR also has a variety of other email notifications available and you can sign up for them on the DNR website.