Minnesota Fishing Opener: Let Summer Begin!

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Cast your line on Lake Margaret in the Brainerd Lakes Area / Paul Vincent
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Minnesota Fishing Opener: Let Summer Begin!

By James Riemermann

Minnesota's annual fishing opener is a treasured tradition that celebrates our state's great angling opportunities and signals the beginning of summer. 

For serious or even halfway-serious anglers in Minnesota, the fishing opener is a sacred holiday and the unofficial beginning of summer—a day that roughly half a million anglers eagerly await each year. 

Some think of it purely as the walleye opener, but the season opener includes a number of species that reside in Minnesota waters, such as northern pike, trout, and—in some areas of the state—bass. The season for sunfish, crappies, perch, channel catfish and a few less popular species is always open.

Keep reading to get the details on this year's Minnesota fishing opener and prepare to join your fellow anglers on the water this summer.

When is the 2021 Minnesota Fishing Opener?

The fishing opener typically aligns with Mother’s Day weekend, but this year's will occur a week later than usual, on Saturday, May 15. That's because Minnesota state statute requires the opener to occur precisely two weeks before the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, which falls on a rare, fifth week of the month this year. 

Even though this year's fishing opener doesn't align with Mother's Day, Minnesota moms and their families are still encouraged to get out and fish for free on May 8 and 9 for Take a Mom Fishing Weekend. Walleye season won't be open yet, but plenty of fishing opportunities remain for crappie, sunfish and other Minnesota fish.

Governor's Fishing Opener Returns for 2021

Fishing is a a way of life across the state. So much so that the Minnesota governor has honored the tradition since 1948 by hosting the annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener. Each year, the event is hosted by the current governor, Explore Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and a new host community each year.

After taking last year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 73rd Governor's Fishing Opener will take place May 13-15 in Otter Tail County. Anglers are encouraged to explore 22 charming communities in Otter Tail County, and the most lakes (1,048) in any U.S. county, including the 10th largest lake in the state, Otter Tail Lake. Fishing enthusiasts from all-around can also join the fun during a virtual statewide fishing derby via FishDonkey.

Find more details regarding the 2021 Governor’s Fishing Opener at

A man fishing on the Mississippi River from Pike Island

Fishing the Mississippi River at Pike Island in the Twin Cities / Zane Spang

More Minnesota Fishing

Minnesota offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the country, from big lakes to scenic trout streams and even the mighty Mississippi. Whether you're looking for tips on where to find walleye, the best season to catch a trophy-sized fish, where to go fly fishing or how to embrace ice fishing, there's no better place to go fishing than Minnesota.

James Riemermann

James Riemermann is a retired writer and editor. Raised in St. Paul, he's a city boy who feels more at home in the woods. Sitting by a campfire on the shore of a quiet north woods lake is his idea of paradise.