ALBERT LEA Minn. - Anglers, young and old have been waiting for the Minnesota Fishing opener all winter, and it has finally arrived.
However, many run into the issue of needing to drop a few dollars before they can head out and drop their first line.
The U.S. Fishing and Wildlife Service surveys openers and events like this to understand just how much people are spending on their day on the lake and the numbers are very favorable for the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Don Pereira with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Section Chief says that the most recent report from the survey says that sport angling contributes approximately $2.4 billion to Minnesota’s economy.
With numbers like that, it’s certainly not a sport the state is forgetting about, and neither are the small businesses.
The Dam Bait Shop owner, Mark Conley says he has been planning for this opener for the past couple of weeks as he knows his shop will be flooded with folks trying to get back out on the water as soon as possible.
“There is definitely more traffic to start with,” he says, “and I think it’s more of the excitement to get out there.”
Getting out on the open water requires a little bit of planning, and spending.
Randy Vuscovick was one of the many anglers out on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea on Saturday, and he was also one of the folks heading out and getting outfitted for the new season.
“I went and got gas for the boat, and I got a few new lures,” Vuscovick says.
Things like lures and bait really add up however, most out on the water say that it’s worth it just to be back out on the water again.
With all of the things to think of for getting your gear and boat prepared for the summer, DNR officials are reminding and asking anglers to use extra caution out on the water this year as some water levels have gotten fairly high after all of the recent rain.
They are also reminding folks to be extra cautious about cleaning off boats once they are out of the water as there is still a major issue with invasive species being spread from lake to lake.
Last year, authorities wrote more than 400 aquatic invasive species citations at public water accesses across the state and in an effort to bring this number down, the DNR has announced that they will be stepping up their enforcement of the invasive species laws this summer.