Making it easier for everyone to fish
Fishing in a pool filled with trout might be a quick fix for the wintertime fishing blues but, come summer, there's nothing like the great outdoors. In the Northland, two very different groups -- the state's Department of Natural Resources and th...
Fishing in a pool filled with trout might be a quick fix for the wintertime fishing blues but, come summer, there's nothing like the great outdoors.
In the Northland, two very different groups -- the state's Department of Natural Resources and the newly formed local chapter of Let's Go Fishing -- are working to make sure more people can take advantage of Minnesota's fishing opportunities.
Effective Wednesday, the state law changed to allow Minnesota residents to fish for free in most state parks without a license.
The new program is the latest lure in the DNR's tackle box of ideas to sustain the state's storied fishing tradition.
"Minnesota has amazing state parks, most of which are located on lakes and rivers," said Dave Schad, DNR Fish and Wildlife director. "By eliminateing the license requirement, it is our hope that those who have never fished before will try it during their state park visit."
While DNR officials do not believe the cost of a fishing license is a significant barrier to fishing, they also believe that it is good business to create the social environment that encourages fishing.
Mike Pennington, board member of Let's Go Fishing Duluth, said he was excited about the idea of making fishing on a boat available to those who might not be able to fish otherwise. While the original chapter was founded to provide fishing and boating outings to seniors at no cost, Pennington said he likes the idea of providing this opportunity to all generations, hopefully sometimes together.
"The founder, Joe Holm, had an elderly friend who couldn't get out and fish anymore, and that's what started it all" said Pennington, whose group is raising funds now to buy a specially-fitted pontoon boat (with three floats) that they would anchor on the St. Louis River.
In Willmar, where Holm started the first chapter, the group works with almost 25 different elderly facilities, taking folks fishing for an afternoon.
And who doesn't enjoy the thrill of catching a fish, whether it's a bluegill off the dock or a 24-inch walleye?
"If you grew up in Minnesota, there's a pretty high probability you spent some time in or on the water through the years," said Pennington. "Maybe you're older now and can't operate the equipment, or the friend that you always went with is gone."
Let's Go Fishing Duluth will be holding a fundraiser from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, July 18 at the Miller Hill Mall Applebee's restaurant. Tickets are $5.
For those who can't wait, the Minnesota state park fishing license exemption went into effect Wednesday. Jay Cooke and Gooseberry Falls are two nearby state parks the unlicensed fisherman might try.
Know this before you go: Specifically, the Minnesota state parks fishing license exemption allows park visitors to take fish without a license when shore fishing or wading on state-owned land within a state park. All limits and special regulations in effect for the body of water being fished apply.
When angling from a boat or float, the law applies only to those water bodies that are completely encompassed within the statutory boundary of the state park.
Anglers must possess a valid license when fishing in Minnesota's six state recreation areas; on waters where a trout stamp is required; and when fishing in any city, county, regional or federal park.
"We see this as a great opportunity to try the lifetime sport of fishing without needing a license," Schad said. "If people catch the fishing bug in a Minnesota state park, we ultimately see them purchasing an angling license and traveling to other fishing destinations where they will stay at the local resorts, campgrounds and parks in those areas."
For a list of state parks and the water bodies where the new law applies, go online to www.dnr.state.mn.us .
Let's Go Fishing Duluth is holding two events in July.
The first is a media/ public awareness event July 15 and 16 at which LGFD will be providing free pontoon rides to seniors and others on the St. Louis River. They will dock a borrowed boat at the Spirit Lake Marina in Riverside and the event will include a free barbecue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The second event is a Pancake Breakfast/ Silent Auction fundraiser from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, July 18 at the Miller Hill Mall Applebees restaurant. Tickets are $5 at the door.