Not all of the half-million or so Minnesota anglers who have plans for Saturday's fishing opener will carve a path atop some freshwater in a Tracker with a 60-horse Mercury.
No boat, no problem. There is solid information about where and how to get to walleyes, crappies and more from shore this weekend and weeks to come this summer. Plus, it takes a certain attitude to take up the sport on any level.
"It's called fishing for a reason," said Nick Sacco, recreation program specialist in Three Rivers Parks District. "If it was called catching, everyone would be doing it."
Most of the state's anglers live in the metro area, and the DNR has a well-established urban fishing program to encourage current and new anglers of any age. Through its DNR webpages, Fishing in the Neighborhood, aka FiN, covers a gamut of information: from links to buy a license online; to directions and summaries on where to fish, county-by-county; to even the dozens of lakes managed and stocked by the DNR. From Boundary Creek to Snelling, Hennepin County alone has nearly 20 small lakes and ponds with piers.
Matt Petersen and Mario Travaline are DNR's fishery specialists in the west metro and are caretakers for about 25 lakes in Hennepin, Scott and Carver counties. In early April, they stocked Powderhorn Lake in Minneapolis with 100 black crappie, 500 bluegill, 130 yellow perch and eight northern. Like some other smaller bodies, Powderhorn is a "put-and-take" lake — fish are stocked for taking by anglers, within limits.
The specialists recently stocked Loring Pond with 100 black crappie and 200 bluegill. Farther out, Courthouse Lake in Chaska will be busy Saturday and days to come: It recently was stocked with 1,500 yearling rainbow trout, Petersen said. "A lot of people will catch their limit the first day," he said. The season reopens Saturday, too.
Tim Ohmann, DNR fisheries specialist in east metro, said so far this spring 150 pounds of walleyes have been put into Como Lake.
Travaline and Petersen encouraged people, especially small groups, to connect with them to find volunteers and other organizations willing to help them get fishing.
"We want to get people out to these lakes," Travaline said. "You'll find a lot of quality fishing in these lakes on both sides of town."
Working on skills
Sacco said there been an increase in interested participants based on program registrations, and noticeably more anglers at water shorelines, docks and piers within district parks. Three Rivers' parkland includes 43 lakes and more than 30 miles of river.
Sacco said low river levels on the Crow, Minnesota and Mississippi rivers make them good targets for opening weekend.
"They are low and slow, and that is rare this time of year," he said. "That offers a good opportunity in the greater metro."
Sacco said warm water temperatures in some lakes bodes well for anglers, too, this weekend, especially the shallows reachable with a cast. Some other recommended spots in the Three Rivers system:
• Silverwood Park, St. Anthony: In spring the crappie fishing is good off the walkway bridge and the island. There also is a large fishing pier to target plentiful sunfish.
• Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, Brooklyn Park: Fishing below the dam is very good. Shore anglers can target multiple species. Crappies can be caught from the fishing platform using crappie minnows. Target walleyes and bass using shiner minnows. And catfish and carp always are abundant below the dam.
• French Regional Park, Plymouth: Shore fishing in the park is best during the spring when crappies and sunfish are in the lagoons and shallows.
Here are some useful online links:
• FiN homepage: bit.ly/FiN2021
• Minnesota fishing piers and shore sites: bit.ly/MNpiers
• Online licenses:
Need a refresher on the basics and some information to take along? In our virtual world, there are a lot of channels. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a fish and wildlife education program called MinnAqua geared toward grade-schoolers and has useful resources such as where to fish across the state with children, equipment and tips, and handy, downloadable Pier Notes. There are brochures on everything from casting and landing fish to rigging, knot-tying, and baiting. Some relevant links:
• Pier Notes: bit.ly/MinnAquaPier
• Information Tacklebox: bit.ly/MNtacklebox
Sacco said programs like those in Three Rivers and the DNR's Fishing in the Neighborhood are vital to keeping the sport thriving for new generations.
"[Fishing] was my gateway to becoming an outdoor educator," said Sacco, who always keeps an eye on the crappie bite on Medicine Lake, among other places.
Ohmann reminded anglers about new bluegill regulations — the Quality Sunfish Initiative — ahead of Saturday's opener. The daily limits on some targeted lakes are lower, part of a program to protect and improve the size of panfish, such as bluegill. Signs are posted at the lakes in the program. Limits change lake to lake, too. For example, 44 have a new daily of five sunfish, and 17 have a limit of five sunfish and five crappies. The bottom line: Know the rules.
The weekend is aligning for good results. Crappies are shallow, bass are moving around, and there are good targets across species for the intrepid shore angler.
"People are going to be able to get a lot of stuff if they wet a line," Ohmann said.
Bob Timmons • 612-673-7899