Focus groups haven't confirmed as much, but it's safe to say there isn't much crossover between Vita.mn readership and Field & Stream's. We chatted with Mark Nemeth -- a fisheries specialist in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program -- to give you some metro fishing pointers before Saturday's statewide fishing opener.
WHERE TO FISH?
For lunkers, Nemeth recommends larger metro lakes such as Minnetonka, Waconia, Minnewashta or Independence. "If you're fishing for pan fish, you'll want a lake that offers good shoreline access, like Calhoun or Nokomis," he said, noting that the DNR website maintains a running list of active local bait shops. "[Bait shops] are a great resource to learn about the local fishing waters," he added. The DNR also offers a free LakeFinder smartphone app. And metro rivers aren't just for fishing out bodies! The state record catfish (a 38-pound monster recorded back in 1975) was hauled out of a Hennepin County portion of the Mississippi River.
CAN I EAT 'EM?
"Generally, fish are safe to eat," Nemeth reported. Turns out mercury is bad for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant and kids, so the Minnesota Department of Health recommends a maximum of one meal per week of smaller fish (sunfish, crappie, perch) and one per month of larger ones (walleye, bass, pike). Unlimited panfish for the rest of us!
IS FISHING FOR ME?
The Minnesota state parks offer a low-stakes way to find out. No license is required to fish from the shore at the parks and many provide free fishing kits that include a pole and tackle. Elsewhere, a yearlong residential license will run you a cool $17.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?
Nemeth's favorite part of his job? "Seeing the excitement in a young person's eyes watching that bobber go down," he said. "Just realizing the kids are getting a connection with nature and natural resources through fishing." Check out all the FiN activities and resources for young anglers at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing, under "Education and Information."