Two Minnesota lawmakers are proposing to move this year's fishing opener a week earlier to avoid clashing with Mother's Day and to take advantage of the unusually warm spring.
The opener currently is set for Saturday, May 12. Mother's Day is May 13. Under the proposal, the season would open May 5.
"Considering the early spring, there's just no reason not to do it,'' said Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. "Why not give people the opportunity?''
Bakk said Minnesota's resort and tourism industry was hurt by the lack of snow, poor ice conditions and early ice-outs.
"Businesses that are dependent on winter tourism had a rough year, and an extra week of the fishing season would give them a big boost," Bakk and Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, said in a joint statement Friday.
And, said Bakk: "I'm not the only Minnesotan who is torn between the fishing opener and spending May 12th with my mom. Of course, Moms should be the priority, but this way Minnesotans can have both."
Bakk said he and Dill plan to introduce amendments to bills on the House and Senate floors to change the opener date. "I think there's a very good chance it becomes law,'' Bakk said.
Dave Schad, Department of Natural Resources deputy commissioner, said his agency only learned of the proposal on Friday.
"We haven't had a chance to check with our biologists to see if there's anything we'd be concerned about,'' he said. But Bakk said with fish spawning projected to be as much as a month early this year, "there is no resource reason to not move the fishing season up by a week."
Schad noted that the Legislature sets the date for the opener, so it could change it.
"Most people have already made plans, and resorts would have to do things differently,'' Schad said. "And what would it do to the governor's fishing opener?'' That annual event is set for Lake Waconia this year.
Over the years, legislators have talked of moving the opener to avoid the conflict with Mother's Day. But it was legislators who exacerbated the problem in the first place. They changed the law in 1989, requiring the fishing season to begin two Saturdays before Memorial Day weekend to guarantee resorts three weekends of business in May. The season used to open on the Saturday nearest May 15.
The fishing opener clashed occasionally with Mother's Day under the old system, but now it does so more frequently.
It wasn't an issue in 2010 or 2011, when Mother's Day fell a week before the opener. But this year and the next three years, Mother's Day will again fall on opening weekend of the fishing season.