Minnesota Fishing Opener: Let Summer Begin!

By James Riemermann

Fishing on Loon Lake; photo by Roy Son
Fishing on Loon Lake; photo by Roy Son

For many, Minnesota's fishing opener is the beginning of summer—a day that roughly half a million anglers eagerly await each year!

The fishing opener is sacred in Minnesota, especially for walleye anglers. For serious or even halfway-serious anglers in Minnesota, staying off the lake on the opener is a recipe for heartbreak, like a 10-year-old staying home on Halloween.

Minnesota is the third most-popular inland fishing destination in the country. There are approximately 1.5 million licensed anglers in Minnesota, second only to the state of Alaska in resident fishing participation.

The fishing opener usually corresponds with Mother’s Day. To keep the peace in fishing families, our state legislature passed the “Take a Mom Fishing Weekend” law in 1989, allowing Minnesota mothers to fish without a license on opening weekend.

In 2019, the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener was held in Albert Lea, May 9-12. In 2020, it will take place in Otter Tail County, May 7-10. Although it’s primarily a media event for invited guests, there is a community picnic open to the general public featuring lots of food and fun activities for all ages. Details will be posted at mngovernorsopener.com.

25 inch catch-and-release walleye; photo courtesy of Joe Scegura Guide Service 800  x  450
Nice walleye; photo courtesy of Joe Scegura Guide Service

In a state where walleye is king, many Minnesota anglers think of it as the walleye opener. But in fact, the May 9, 2020 is the season opener for a number of species that reside in Minnesota waters, including 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.

For more information on fishing in Minnesota, on opening weekend or any other time, visit the Explore Minnesota fishing page, or find rules, regulations and more details on fishing seasons at mndnr.gov/fishing.