Minnesotans are a hearty folk, but most can agree that this has been one long winter. As anglers prepare for the Minnesota fishing opener on May 11 they may have to deal with more than just cool weather. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has warned anglers that due to the late ice out they may not be able to get repair crews to all boat launches prior to the opener. This situation is particularly true in Northwest Minnesota and Northeast Minnesota with large lakes such as Lake of the Woods and Lake Vermilion still dealing with ice. While Northern Minnesota is still dealing with icy water conditions the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and Southern Minnesota launch ramps will be ready for boaters.
Every spring the Parks and Trails Division repair and check all launch ramps and install docks. But as Nancy Stewart, public access coordinator states “This work cannot be done until the ice is off the lake, and it can take a couple weeks to get to every site in each work area.”
As the Minnesota fishing opener approaches Stewart suggests that anglers be patient at the boat ramp and to use extra caution when launching their boats. She also advices to bring along waders or hip boots and a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket in the event an angler will have to enter the water to guide their boat in without the use of a dock. Once in the water be careful while boating as free-floating ice sheets or debris could still be on some lakes.
Most fisherman have a certain lake they plan on fishing at for the opener but make sure to have a back up plan in the event that the conditions on the lake are not suitable for boating. It is best to visit the DNR website to check the ice out conditions before heading out, they also have public water access maps that can be very helpful. To get ice-out updates or request maps call the DNR Information Center 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Another great resource is the office locator on the DNR website which will find contact information for the nearest DNR office.