Looking forward to fishing opener!

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minnesota department of natural resources

Minnesota Fishing

May 3, 2023

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

Minnesota Moms Fishing Challenge, May 13-14, Student Anglers Organization and logo, DNR logo, image of mom and kids fishing

Moms: Join this Mother’s Day weekend fishing challenge

Moms who live in Minnesota are invited to join a free virtual fishing challenge Saturday, May 13, through Sunday, May 14, during Take a Mom Fishing Weekend, when all Minnesota moms can fish without purchasing a fishing license.

To participate in the Mother’s Day weekend fishing challenge, moms simply need to join the Minnesota Moms Fishing Challenge Facebook group and submit one photo of each fish they catch. All participants who submit a fish will be entered in a random drawing for more than 100 prizes provided by the Student Anglers Organization, including SCHEELS gift cards. The DNR is partnering with the Student Anglers Organization to organize the challenge.

mother and son fishing on a dock

Regional fishing reports available from DNR ahead of opener

Preparing for the fishing opener? Find local information in our regional fishing reports.

The reports are prepared by area fisheries managers and include detailed information on waters in the region and what fish you can find there.

These roundups from area managers have everything from where to find early-season walleye in far northern Minnesota, to tips on what Waterville area lakes are good bets for northern pike over 24 inches, and much more. 

“Mom and son making memories” photo courtesy of Tanya Brick 

DNR fisheries staff holding a pike on a fisheries boat on Bald Eagle Lake

Shaping up to be a great year for northern pike populations

The DNR continues to study northern pike populations, hoping to improve fishing opportunities. This year, high water conditions may benefit northern pike by providing extra nearshore rearing areas. Northern pike like to spawn on submerged vegetation and we have plenty of that this spring! This year we may see strong recruitment (the number of fish surviving to enter a fishery) in lakes where a lack of habitat typically limits the amount of pike reproduction.

For information about pike fishing zone regulations, visit the DNR pike page.

Beth Holbrook, DNR fisheries researcher, holds a 35-inch northern pike sampled this spring as part of a mark-recapture study to estimate the number of fish in Bald Eagle Lake.

girl and boy on a fishing pier and girl has a sunfish and a bunch of tangled line, smiling

‘Catch’ the fun of shore fishing 

For people who want to go fishing but don’t have a boat or don’t want to use a boat, the DNR has two instructional videos about how to catch fish from shore. The videos can be found on the DNR website by searching “shore fishing.” Shore Fishing 101 covers general shore fishing basics and Shore Fishing 102 focuses on river fishing from shore.

For those fishing in the Twin Cities area, the DNR has a map of accessible piers and shore fishing locations, and lakes stocked with fish at the DNR Fishing in the Neighborhood page. Stocking in many area lakes is happening through the end of May. For fishing locations across the entire state, the DNR has a map of fishing piers and shore fishing locations on the DNR website.

Showing off the catch of the day from a fishing pier on the Cedar River, photo courtesy of Nate Howard

releasing a redhorse, arms and the fish in the water

DNR offers tips on how to catch and release fish

Anglers who intend to release any of the fish they catch can boost the chances those fish will survive by following best practices for catch and release:

  • Plan fishing trips around the weather and the species, keeping in mind that cold and cool water fish such as brown and brook trout, and walleye and northern pike, might experience more stress during hot weather. Then choose the right tackle for the job and avoid “playing” a fish too long — land it quickly to reduce the buildup of lactic acid in the body.
  • Set the hook quickly to avoid hooking a fish in the stomach or gills. Before handling the fish, anglers should wet their hands to prevent removal of the fish’s protective slime coating. If possible, unhook and release the fish while it is still in the water. If a hook is deep in the fish, cut the line and leave the hook in the fish.
  • When holding the fish out of the water, support it with both hands using a firm, gentle grip. It is OK to measure the fish and take a photo — however, minimize the time the fish is out of the water. Anglers intending to release a fish should not place it on a stringer or in a live well.
  • To release a fish, hold it horizontally in the water by cradling it under its belly. If needed, revive the fish by slowly moving it forward in the water until it swims away. An alternative to this method is cupping your hand and splashing water into the fish’s mouth and out the gills while holding the fish on the surface of the water. Harvest a fish that can be legally kept if it is bleeding extensively or cannot right itself in the water.

Walleye and crappie caught in deeper than 30 feet of water might not survive if released, so avoid these depths if planning to practice catch and release.

Find other catch-and-release tips related to fishing equipment, and a video of how to handle large fish like flathead catfish, lake sturgeon or muskellunge, at the DNR catch and release page.

the Hmong fishing regulations cover

Fishing regulations available in Hmong, Karen, Somali, Spanish

The DNR has translated the state’s 2023 fishing regulations into Hmong, Karen, Somali and Spanish. This marks the third year that people have access to Minnesota’s fishing regulations in these four languages.

The DNR translated the regulation booklets into the four most commonly spoken languages, apart from English, in Minnesota. The translated regulations are available in digital format on the DNR website and in print at locations where they are likely to be in demand, including at select DNR offices, license vendors and some Minnesota state parks.

People can request that a free copy of the English, Hmong, Karen, Somali or Spanish regulation booklets be mailed to them by calling the DNR’s Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 or by emailing info.dnr@state.mn.us.

The DNR Information Center also offers interpretation in more than 200 languages and provides information in alternative formats for individuals with disabilities. For TTY/TDD communication contact us through the Minnesota Relay Service at 711 or 800-627-3529. 

tribal fishing image, adult and kid on water with spear

Ojibwe spring fishing season begins soon

Each spring, Native American tribal members in Minnesota preserve their cultural heritage while providing a vital food source for tribal communities by harvesting fish through netting and spearing. This legally protected, regulated harvest of fish usually begins at ice-out.

With the tribal spring harvest season getting underway, the DNR expresses support for tribal members exercising their harvest rights within the 1837 Ceded Territory and within reservation boundaries. The 1837 treaty reserves to tribal members the right to hunt and fish in the ceded territory, free of state regulation.

The DNR reminds all state residents it is illegal to interfere or attempt to interfere with tribal members who are exercising treaty rights, including the spring harvesting of walleye.

angler holding a large largemouth bass caught from shore, USA hat, his tackle box on ground

Fishing information grab bag

Fishing season is upon us, and we have a variety of other information available to help you prepare for the season.

  • Safety must be the priority around cold water. Lake ice is gone — or on its way out — across much of the state. Cold water is dangerous and unexpected falls can quickly turn tragic. 
  • Familiarize yourself with fishing regulation changes that went into effect in March, including those that apply to individual waters where you may be fishing.
  • Do you fish in the Lake Superior area? Sign up to receive email updates about stream conditions and smelt updates, and Lake Superior summer fishing reports.
  • Please report fish die-offs to the state duty officer if you see evidence of a fish die-off in a lake or stream, by calling the duty officer at 651‐649‐5451 or 800‐422‐0798 (the officer line is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week).
  • The DNR and Minnesota IT Services have selected conservation technology company S3 as the vendor to build a modern electronic licensing system to serve the state’s anglers, boaters, hunters and recreational vehicle owners. 
  • The DNR is proposing changes to whitefish and cisco seasons and netting, and recreational netters and anglers are invited to comment on the proposed rules through 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 26.
  • Each year, the DNR cautions lake and river property owners about improper use of hydraulic jets.
  • Minnesota DNR Days are back at Twins games this season. Anyone with a 2023 Minnesota fishing or hunting license can receive a free special edition orange Minnesota Twins logo cap and a ticket discount thanks to a special ticket offer from the Twins.
  • Getting ready for fishing opener? Consider checking out a DNR webinar at noon Wednesday, May 10, all about catching walleye on opening weekend. The webinar is free, but registration is required.

“20 1/2 inch largemouth bass for Jaydon,” 2022 photo courtesy of Brady Manteufel 

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.

Have Minnesota fishing photos to share? You can upload your photos and we may use them in emails notifications, social media or the DNR website.