Fishing over the Fourth!

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minnesota department of natural resources

Minnesota Fishing

June 30, 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.

dock on a lake

Fishing on the Fourth of July weekend? Check here

Heading out for some fishing? 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 trout fishing page with 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 in five languages, and in print where DNR licenses are sold.

Photo courtesy of Brian Neurauter

two boats on the water as seen from a driver

Operation Dry Water set for July 1-3

In more than half the boating fatalities in Minnesota, alcohol is the main factor. That means those deaths likely were preventable, which is a key reason why DNR conservation officers and their public safety partners are stepping up their efforts to keep Minnesota’s waterways safe July 1-3.

The increased focus on boating under the influence is part of Operation Dry Water, a nationwide campaign to highlight the dangers of boating under the influence of drugs and alcohol and call attention to the heavy penalties associated with boating while intoxicated. Each year during this time, dozens of boaters are arrested for BWI.

Minnesota’s lakes and rivers likely will be extraordinarily busy over the next week, thanks to a promising forecast and the annual urge to celebrate the Fourth of July on the water. Anyone operating a boat should not use drugs or ingest alcohol. In Minnesota and across the nation, BWI is the leading contributing factor in boating accidents and fatalities. Operation Dry Water coincides with the days leading up to the Fourth of July because waterways are particularly busy and BWI-related injuries and deaths tend to spike during this holiday period.

For more information on Operation Dry Water and boating safety, visit the Operation Dry Water website, and the boating safety webpage of the DNR website.

Operation Dry Water activities are sponsored by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.

angler holding a large catfish

DNR accepting comments on Minnesota River fish management plan

The DNR invites anglers and other members of the public to comment through Friday, Aug. 11 about fishing and fisheries topics on the Minnesota River to inform an update to the fisheries management plan for the 320-mile river.

Comments and suggestions from the public are important for identifying angler values and social considerations. Public input is most useful before plans are finalized. The draft plan and details about how to comment are available on the DNR website.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Wann

cisco in the belly of a fish

Lake Superior cisco haul!

We've consulted our crystal ball and all we see are cisco (a.k.a., herring, tullibee)!

In case you missed it, Minnesota DNR fisheries biologists at the Lake Superior office were excited to hear from our partners at the USGS Great Lakes Science Center that recent bottom trawl surveys are pulling up epic numbers of juvenile cisco.

The number of one-year-old cisco in a haul is a huge indicator of the future adult population. Once cisco successfully reach one year of age, they’re likely to make it to adulthood (three years of age) and can live to over 30 years old.

Age one cisco have been hard to come by in recent years, with some years only yielding a single fish during trawl surveys around all of Lake Superior. Scientists on the USGS Research Vessel Kiyi haven't seen numbers this high since at least 1984 and if high catches keep up, this may be a record-setting year.

Cisco are an important prey fish for larger predator fish, like lake trout. In recent years, Lake Superior hasn’t had as many prey fish for larger predator fish to eat. A boom in cisco is great news for the whole ecosystem.

Based on these findings, fisheries biologists can predict a large increase in adult numbers in three years in the commercial, sport and tribal fisheries (and maybe larger-sized predator fish!), making the USGS bottom trawl survey one of the most important surveys our federal partners do to support management across Lake Superior.

While the long, snowy winters were tough for Minnesotans the past two years, it may have been a boon for cisco. Colder water temperatures in the spring of 2022 may have allowed cisco egg hatching and zooplankton production (the tiny organisms they eat as young fry) to match up well for the first time in years.

Learn more about Lake Superior fisheries on the DNR website. 

Photo courtesy of USGS Great Lakes Science Center

state record catch and release muskie

Catch and release webinar is coming up on July 5

We’ve got a webinar coming up you might want to catch — on catch and release fishing!

Catch and release is a great way to enjoy fishing while minimizing the impact on fish populations. On Wednesday, July 5, Tony Sindt, Minnesota River specialist with DNR Fisheries, will discuss how to prepare to safely handle, photograph and release fish. The webinar will focus on large trophy fish and how to avoid mortality from deep water fishing and summer heat.

The webinar is part of the Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series. Live webinar presentations are at noon Wednesdays. Registration is required and free.

Photo courtesy of Eric Bakke

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.