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2000 fishing season begins with cold weather, potential

The Lake of the Woods, both the American and the Canadian side, is renowned for superior fishing. Thousands of islands and miles of shoreline, especially on the Canadian side, shield the waters from the wind, making it one of the area's premiere ...

The Lake of the Woods, both the American and the Canadian side, is renowned for superior fishing. Thousands of islands and miles of shoreline, especially on the Canadian side, shield the waters from the wind, making it one of the area's premiere angling hot spots.
Recently, however, the Canadian side of the lake has been an expensive place to be for non-Canadian anglers. The Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources has been imposing walleye laws on non-Canadian fisher people since 1998, stating that non-Canadians could keep walleye and sauger fish caught on Ontario border lakes only if they were spending the night in Ontario.
The laws infuriated Minnesota border resort owners and fisher people who felt that the Canadian laws were clearly created to cut into American fishing profits.
The Canadians claimed that their laws were simply created to prevent "overfishing" of Ontario's lakes. The Americans weren't buying that claim, citing Canadian government press releases which stated the purpose of the laws was to ensure "continued economic, recreation and social benefits for the people of Ontario."
No where did the releases mention fish conservation. Besides, an extensive fish-tagging operation proved that the Americans were taking only 7 percent of the walleye in the lake.
Then Jim Southwick from the Minneapolis-based Dorsey and Whitney law firm stepped in, claiming that the Canadian laws were a violation of NAFTA. Minnesota's Gov. Jesse Ventura also weighed in, and soon the Minnesota State Legislature was giving its support to the NAFTA complaint.
Following some discussions, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources realized that it was fighting a losing battle and settled. It repealed the laws in November, making this the first fishing season in years that Minnesotans can fish in Canadian waters, keep what they catch, and not have to spend the night in Canadian resorts.
And for disgruntled area anglers looking for a place where the temperatures are warmer and the fish are biting, Lake of the Woods is supposed to be warmer than Duluth this weekend. Temperatures on the border are expected to be in the 70s F., or the mid-20s C., depending on which side you're on.
Jolene Johnson from Minnesota Law and Politics contributed to this story.

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