Fishing opener is this weekend!

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minnesota department of natural resources

Minnesota Fishing

May 11, 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.

young angler holding a large walleye on a boat

Get fishing questions answered

Excited for fishing opener? If you have questions as you prepare, check out the DNR fishing page before heading out to the water. The page is a mobile-friendly destination for information on when, where and how to fish.

You can also find links to LakeFinder, which provides maps and detailed information on lakes throughout the state, and the StreamFinder tool that provides a description, species list, regulations and access information for trout streams throughout Minnesota.

The 2023 Minnesota Fishing Regulations are also available on the page, and in print where DNR licenses are sold.

“Mosley and his St. Croix River walleye” photo courtesy of Mo Vang

bass held by a hand on a board by DNR fisheries staff

Year-round bass fishing? Please share your thoughts

What do you think about being able to fish for bass year-round? We’re gauging whether such a change would sit well with the majority of Minnesota anglers. What are your thoughts on a catch and release season on inland waters that would last from the current closure, typically the last Sunday in February, through the current fishing opener, defined as the Saturday two weeks prior to Memorial Day weekend?

More information and a questionnaire can be found on our DNR public engagement platform.

mother and daughter with a crappie on a boat

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.

“Crappie with mom” photo courtesy of Cara Hanson

photo of a spiny water flea on a fingertip

Limit aquatic invasive impacts

With fishing season here, remember that invasive species can and do impact water quality and the aquatic food chain. Doing your part to clean, drain and dry your boat and gear helps reduce their spread.

Fisheries biologists monitoring Mille Lacs Lake discovered that zebra mussels and spiny water flea offset each other’s impacts on water clarity. Zebra mussels filtered algae out of the water column, increasing water clarity in late spring. But spiny water fleas consumed native zooplankton, which left more algae that decreased water clarity later in the summer.

Although the research did not document a significant change in water clarity, interplay between invasive species can complicate lake biology, produce unexpected outcomes and have large impacts on a lake’s food web. Those factors can and do impact a lake and the aquatic creatures that call it home.

angler with a head lamp holding a large flathead catfish at night

Fishing southern Minnesota?

Planning to fish around the Mankato area for the fishing opener? We have recommendations for you! If you’re planning to target walleye, Madison Lake and Lake Washington are local favorites. This year, the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener takes place in the Mankato area. And remember Fountain Lake, which previously hosted a Governor’s Fishing Opener in 2019, also has a healthy walleye population.

If you’re after northern pike, Madison and Fountain lakes, along with the German/Jefferson Chain, have northern pike over 24 inches, according to recent fisheries surveys.

For fast-action anglers, check out Lake Frances or Clear Lake which have high largemouth bass numbers. If you want a chance at a fish topping the 20-inch mark, East Jefferson, Cedar and Fountain offer low to medium densities of bass but bigger fish.

Don’t forget Mankato offers great river fishing opportunities! Anglers can target channel and flathead catfish on the Minnesota River.

For more southern Minnesota fishing information, and reports on waters throughout the state, check out the DNR regional fishing outlooks. And our recent Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship webinar, on catching walleye on opening weekend, had a special focus on southern Minnesota fishing.

“Flathead catfish caught on the Minnesota River” photo courtesy of Kevin Wann 

DNR Fisheries staff intern with a large muskie on his lap, on a boat

Fisheries field highlight

DNR Fisheries Intern Mitchell Ulrich, who said he wanted to see a muskie this summer, got to do just that when his fisheries crew measured and released this French Lake beauty on his second day on the job!

This year, Minnesota’s muskie season opens Saturday, June 3.

a beautiful orange sky with a fishing boat near a dock

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. 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. Fishing regulations available on the DNR website.
  • Looking for a place to fish from shore? Check out the map on the DNR website that has locations of fishing piers and shore fishing sites.

“Fishing Opener on Wolf Lake, Beltrami County” 2021 photo courtesy of Michael Hanley

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.