Minnesota's fishing season would be moved up a week to May 5 this year under a bill approved Tuesday by the Minnesota House.
The Senate still must OK the move, which the DNR says is unprecedented. The season now is set to open May 12.
"This is a bonus week of fishing, not a [new] fishing opener," said Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, who offered the proposal in an amendment to a large game and fish bill. He said the proposal would only affect the 2012 season, not future seasons, and said the state should take advantage of what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Because of the unusually warm spring and record ice-out, walleyes will spawn early this year, he said, so there should be no biological reason to not open the season earlier. Dill said some resort owners told him they don't want to open a week early.
"They don't have to," Dill said.
Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said Monday that moving up the fishing opener shouldn't interfere with the spawning season, and he wouldn't have a problem with it.
Dill and Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, also noted that the regular fishing opener weekend clashes with Mother's Day this year, and moving it a week earlier will prevent that.
Meanwhile, if you're looking for ice in Minnesota, better head to the refrigerator. Most Minnesota lakes now are ice-free, shattering records. Lake Bemidji and Leech Lake went ice-free on Monday, setting records, while ice departed Lake Kabetogama, Namakan Lake and Lower Red Lake and Island Lake near Duluth on Sunday.
Most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness also is open water. Also, little ice is on Lake Vermilion, but ice remains on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake.
DOUG SMITH AND RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER