Fishing opener is a Minnesota rite of springtime, and this Saturday’s kickoff of fishing for walleye, bass, trout in lakes, and northern pike will have anglers on the water to wet a line, reconnect with nature and benefit from time spent outdoors.

While the fishing opener is a time-honored tradition, the COVID-19 pandemic requires that Minnesotans approach the fishing opener differently this year, said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen.

“We need for Minnesotans to fish close to home,” Strommen said. “This is not the time to travel long distances to fish since travel can spread the COVID-19 virus, particularly to rural communities that may have more virus-vulnerable populations.”

To help anglers and other people engaging in outdoor recreation determine what “close to home” means in the context of COVID-19, the DNR, in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Health, developed additional guidelines. Following these guidelines will minimize potential opportunities for transmission:

No overnight stays.
Bring all needed supplies with you.
Only go as far as you can travel and return on a single tank of gas or single charge for EV drivers.
Strommen said these guidelines will help protect many rural communities that are home to older Minnesotans and American Indians, groups that have a higher incidence of underlying health conditions.

Many destination fishing spots are in and near these communities and anglers don’t just go to the boat ramp, but visit the convenience store, gas station and grocery store. Small town residents use these same retail outlets and one viral transmission can have serious impacts on a rural community.

“Let’s remember that part of the fishing opener tradition is teaching the next generation,” Strommen said. “Let’s teach them to protect our fellow Minnesotans by finding the many wonderful fishing opportunities we have close to home. It’s an important lesson

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