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2022 Minnesota fishing opener: What you need to know

Call ahead to make sure your opening-day destination lake is free of ice.

2000 Fishing opener, Leech lake
More than 100 boats congregated off Pine Point on Leech Lake during the 2000 Minnesota fishing opener. Some northern Minnesota lakes may not be ice-free in time for this year's May 14 opener.
Derek Neas / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The general inland fishing season in Minnesota starts at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 14 for walleye, northern pike and bass, although bass fishing south and west of U.S. Highway 53 is catch-and-release only until May 27. Panfish fishing — including perch, sunfish and crappies — is allowed all year. Musky season starts June 4. Fishing on Lake Superior for salmon and some trout runs all year. North Shore stream fishing for rainbow trout is allowed all year. Brook trout fishing opened April 16.

Send us your fish pics!

The News Tribune wants to run photos of you, your family and your friends with their catch of the day, not just on opening day but all year long! Send them to outdoors@duluthnews.com . Remember to handle the fish quickly, keep your hands away from the gills and eyes, and try to have the sun shining on the angler’s face, not at their back. Get close and fill the pic with fish!

stringer of fish
Tyler Erickson of Duluth holds up a stringer of fish he and his family caught fishing from shore on the 2020 Minnesota fishing opener on the St. Louis River in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Lake ice-out information

The most up to date information will come from local bait shops, lodges or residents on a lake, but a statewide listing of lake ice-out status is available at dnr.state.mn.us/ice_out/index.html . Most lakes north of Minnesota Highway 200 remained ice-covered this past week.

Docks and water levels

Even if your lake does lose its ice by May 14 it's unlikely crews will have had time to install docks on many lakes. Bring waders or rubber boots to help launch the boat. Meanwhile, a winter of heavier snow and recent spring rains have helped raise water levels, especially along the Minnesota-Ontario border. But some lakes may still be low after last year's drought, which left some boat landings unusable. Island Lake near Duluth, which fluctuates as a reservoir for hydro power, remained very low last week.

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Bait shortage?

It seems every year there is talk of a bait shortage, and this year, with such a late ice out, is no exception. Lake shiners may be in short supply because, even where ice has gone out, the water is too cold for shiners to spawn near shore, where bait dealers trap them. Most other bait should be delivered to bait shops in time for the opener, said Phil Koep, owner of Urbank Bait in Clitherall, Minnesota, one of the state's largest wholesale bait dealers, on Wednesday. "Our little lakes (where minnows are trapped) just lost their ice last week, and the bigger lakes around here are just going out now, so it's going to be a rush for us," Koep said. "But we should have most of the bait shops in good shape by the opener."

Get your license

Check out various license options and buy your license online at dnr.state.mn.us/fishing , or buy a license by phone at 888-665-4236 or at many sporting goods stores statewide. The basic resident adult fishing license for a year is $25; $51 for nonresidents.

Find a fishing lake on the mobile app, online

Get lake specific information on specific lakes, including regulations, fish species, stocking reports, boat landing locations and lake maps at maps1.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefinder/mobile . You can search by lake name, on a map or find lakes near where you are.

2018 fishing opener
A passel of boats ply the St. Louis River Estuary for the 2018 Minnesota fishing opener. This year's opener is May 14.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Munger Landing open

As reported in the News Tribune last week, the popular Munger Landing boat ramp and fishing pier in western Duluth will remain open at least through Memorial Day after a delay in sediment cleanup work in the estuary near the site. The landing will close in June through 2023.

More than1 million anglers

Minnesota sold 1,100,256 fishing licenses last year. That number has been fairly consistent between 1 and 1.2 million over the past 20 years. The state is believed to have about 1.4 million anglers when older seniors and children who don't need licenses are factored in. About 500,000 people are believed to fish on opening day, although that number has never been vetted.

Limits and regulations

There are no major changes in regulations for walleye, bass or pike in the Northland (the statewide walleye limit remains 6 fish daily on lakes where no additional restrictions are in place) but there are changes to some panfish limits on certain lakes, including some in the Duluth area. For more information on fishing in Minnesota, including regulations by region, specific lakes/rivers and species, go to dnr.state.mn.us/fishing . You can also get a regulations booklet wherever licenses are sold.

Northland seasonal fishing closures

As it is every year by permanent state law, the St. Louis River will be closed to walleye fishing from the Highway 23 bridge upstream to the boundary cable near the dam, until May 18.

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Other seasonal fishing closures include:

  • The Cross River (inlet to Gunflint Lake) from the Gunflint Trail to Gunflint Lake, through May 27.
  • Junco Creek, from the first log dam above County Road 57 downstream to Devil Track Lake, including Devil Track Lake within 300 yards of the mouth of the Junco River, through May 27.
  • Little Gunflint-Little North channel, the channel between Little Gunflint and Little North Lakes, including Little Gunflint Lake within 300 yards of the channel mouth, and Little North Lake within 100 yards of the channel head through May 31.
  • Maligne River (also known as Northern Light Rapids) on the Ontario side of Saganaga Lake, through May 31.
  • Saganaga Falls, on the Minnesota‑Ontario border where the Granite River enters Saganaga Lake, through May 31.
  • Sea Gull River, from Sea Gull Lake through Gull Lake to Saganaga Lake approximately 1/3 mile north of the northern-most narrows, including all of Sag Narrows, through May 27.
  • Moody's Creek in Itasca County, from County Road 432 upstream 1/2 mile, through June 30.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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