Always known, now verified: Minnesotans love to fish.
Figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicate that only Alaska has a greater percentage of its residents who fish or hunt — 45 percent for Alaska to Minnesota's 34 percent.
The information was included in the latest batch of data released by the service in conjunction with its 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
Minnesotans also spend a lot of money on their outdoor sports.
State residents rank third behind Florida and Michigan anglers in money spent on fishing.
Floridians forked over $4.6 billion for bait, rods and reels and other gear, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, while Michigan anglers barely edged out their Minnesota counterparts, $2.42 billion to $2 billion.
More information from the service's five-year survey will be released in coming weeks.
Time was years — and years — ago that giant northern pike were relatively common in many Minnesota lakes.
Not so any more.
Yes, Upper Red still has some big boys (and girls), as do Rainy, Lake of the Woods and a handful of other state waters.
Including, apparently, Mille Lacs.
Pictured here is Travis Hultgren of Bayport, a pro-staffer with Blue Ribbon Bait in Oakdale, with a 43-inch northern boated June 29.
Estimated at 25 pounds, the fish was released safely.
If you own an iPhone and want to take better and more interesting fish-release photos, now there's a way.
LifeProof makes a waterproof case for these phones that is good down to about 6 feet — plenty to capture photos, say, of a trophy muskie being set free.
Until now, most images of fish being released were taken by a fishing partner from above and behind the angler releasing the fish. Now you can hold your iPhone under water to snap a shot of a fish being prepared for release, or to take a photo of the fish swimming away.
The image of the trout shown here was taken by my son, Trevor, who is a fly fishing guide in western Montana. A student at the University of Montana, he guides for Two Dog Outfitters out of Hamilton, Montana.
Of course it helps if the water is clear and clean, as mountain streams typically are. But similar photos are possible in many Minnesota waters.
Effective today, Aug. 1, Yellowstone National Park has closed some rivers to trout fishing because water temperatures have risen, stressing the fish.
The following rivers are closed to all fishing:
• Gibbon River below Gibbon Falls
• Firehole River below Keppler Cascades
• Madison River
A park news release cited high air temperatures, limited rainfall, runoff from thermal features, and below average stream flows as reasons prompting the closures.
Example: Gibbon River temps have been above 73 degrees most of the past two weeks, with water temperatures in the Firehole River above 78.
Other park streams are being monitored.
Park staff say the extended forecast is for hot and dry conditions, and that additional fishing restrictions could follow.
Updates at www.nps.gov/yell
"The people that got shut down last year, that went no bait, they got a sour taste in their mouth. The people that got shut down in June, they got a sour tasked in their mouth. Now this? Even more people. Word's going to get out soon that, 'Hey, you can't count on Alaska anymore,' and it's going to be devastating," Goggia said.