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Warm weather and sunshine on deck for Minnesota Fishing Opener

Fishing on Lingroth Lake in Aitkin on June 27, 2020.
Lorie Shaull
Fishing on Lingroth Lake in Aitkin on June 27, 2020.

The season for Northern pike, walleye, sauger, and inland trout opens Saturday, May 11, 2024, in Minnesota.

The perennial question of how much ice might still be on the lakes as Minnesota open-water fishing season begins is already answered this year: not a speck.

Instead, it’s whether we’ll top 70 degrees on Saturday, May 11, as anglers dip their lines in during this warm and early spring.

In a state where lakes are front and center, Sarah Strommen, commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, said the fishing opener an exciting time of year, for both the outdoor adventures and the state’s economy.

“Fishing is a $4.4 billion industry for Minnesota, Strommen said on the KAXE Morning Show. " ... It is not a small impact, it's huge."

Strommen said the state is abuzz with activity as anglers prepare for the big day.

“They're in the bait stores, they're in the gas stations, the hotels, the restaurants and that is multiplied all across the state, in communities north, south, west and east," Strommen said. "It's an impact we see in the dollars, but also an impact we see in individual communities."

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DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen on the KAXE Morning Show
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen talks about Minnesota's fishing opener in 2024.

The season for Northern pike, walleye and sauger opens Saturday across the state, and large and smallmouth bass may also be fished in the Arrowhead.

The season for trout in lakes also opens Saturday, while stream fishing has been underway since mid-April. In a fishing outlook for northeastern Minnesota, Fisheries Section Manager Brad Parsons said this species isn't always in the spotlight on opening day but deserves a closer look.

" While you’re out enjoying nature, you’re going to have abundant walleye populations, the northern pike and smallmouth bass will be really active out there, but we also have excellent trout fishing both in lakes and streams that sometimes get overlooked but really shouldn’t. They’re a lot of fun to catch and are good on the plate as well,” he said.

KAXE contributor Jeff Sundin, the Early Bird Fishing Guide, was one of those anglers getting ready this week. He said the overall supply of minnows this year at local bait shops is in good shape.

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Early Bird Fishing Guide Jeff Sundin on 2024 fishing opener
A man holds a walleye on a Minnesota lake measuring 28 inches

"The early spring helped out everybody that needs to get into the smaller creeks and the ponds that trap fatheads, rainbows and all of the minnows," Sundin said during his regular Thursday morning segment.

The supply of shiners is lower, Sundin said, with some bait shops rationing the species. But he noted most have them in stock, and it's an improvement from recent years.

Sundin said you can avoid headaches at the landing with preparation and patience.

"If you can't wait 10 minutes, then you're going to the wrong lake. Because the fish are still going to be there 10 minutes later, and being the first one out there is not as important as it's cracked up to be," he said. " ... Get in the line, go through the water inspection, pull your plug in. ... Things will just go so much smoother.”

It’s also Mother’s Day on Sunday and Take a Mom Fishing Weekend, when all Minnesota moms can fish without buying a license.

A free virtual fishing challenge hosted by the DNR, the Student Angler Organization and Women Anglers of Minnesota will also take place for the second year. Visit for information on how to participate.