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Jim Gehrz, DML - Star Tribune

Ron Schara: Fishing opener shouldn't be a moving target

  • Article by: RON SCHARA
  • April 6, 2012 - 10:46 PM

There are three major holidays in Minnesota -- Christmas, New Years and Opening Day.

We all know this. All of which makes it rather unbelievable, if not preposterous, that members of the Minnesota House would vote -- 82 to 49 -- to change the Opener, commonly known as the start of the statewide walleye fishing season.

It's akin to moving Christmas a week earlier.

Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, concocted the idea on the House floor. Offered an amendment to HF2171 to move the opener ahead one week to May 5. Just like that. It passed, a rare nonpartisan vote by politicians who wanted to give us a ''bonus week'' for chasing walleyes.

No hearings. No public discussion. No input from resort owners, who are probably wondering what kind of reservation mess they'll be facing. And I'm guessing that Dill and others never asked Minnesotans who so love the opener that months ago they chose their vacation week at work, a choice that often cannot be changed.

I'm guessing that the House members also never asked the many state anglers who traditionally open the Wisconsin walleye season, which always opens a week or more before Minnesota. This year ... May 5.

And what about the folks in Waconia, who have worked long and hard to host the annual Governor's Fishing Opener Party on Lake Waconia ? Are they stuck with the original May 12 date? So -- what do you call the Governor's Opening Day Party when it's held a week after the opener?

As a point of transparency, my "Minnesota Bound" television show also decided to revive the traditional Lake Minnetonka Crappie Contest, a fun event for the whole family. It's always been viewed as a ''fishing warm-up'' to the Opener. We also picked the date months ago ... May 5.

Clearly, the 82 House Legislators who voted to change a valued tradition in Minnesota don't get it. The Opener is a very special time in the lives of many Minnesotans. Tens of thousands of us already have our reservations at resorts, motels and the like.

What if they can't be changed? What about conflicts with the new date? Sure, we can still go fishing May 12, but ... it's not the Opener. The Opener is Minnesota's biggest -- yes, biggest -- sporting event of the year. Would the NFL change the date of the Super Bowl with a few weeks notice?

If Minnesotans feel we need to change our fishing traditions, fine, but the new Opener date ought to apply in 2013. Fortunately, the Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton still have the opportunity to undo the House proposal and preserve the date we anglers anticipate from one Opener to the next.

Oddly enough, Rep. Dill is a fishing friend of mine. He's a skilled walleye fisherman. He doesn't need a bonus week to catch something.

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Ron Schara is a former Star Tribune outdoor columnist and the host of the "Minnesota Bound" television show.

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