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500,000 Minnesota anglers to cast lines for fishing opener

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In a time-honored Minnesota tradition, more than 500,000 anglers will hit the state's famed lakes early Saturday morning for the first day of fishing season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports.

Will you be among them? The DNR has opening day tips here.

Thirty-two percent of Minnesotans fish, a state resident participation rate second only to Alaska.

Among their ranks: Gov. Mark Dayton, who plans to be in Nisswa for the annual Governor's Fishing Opener, a Minnesota tradition since 1948, KARE 11 notes. He plans to cast his line on Gull Lake when the season officially opens at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The Star Tribune has more about Gull Lake's colorful history, rich with tales of gangsters, gamblers and resort visionaries.

Iced lakes hampered the fishing opener last year in central Minnesota, but Brainerd-area lakes appear to be wide open heading into Saturday, the West-Central Tribune reports. Gull Lake is still a bit behind the traditional start of the walleye bite, the newspaper reports.

You can listen to audio interviews from Gull Lake opener events early Friday morning here.

Of course, the star of Saturday won't be Gov. Dayton – it'll be the state's beloved walleye. The Pioneer Press reports that of the $8.2 million the state spends stocking lakes, nearly half goes to walleye.

Just in time for the big day this year, the DNR has unveiled a new more user-friendly fishing website, stocked with regulations and other helpful information about licensing, when and where to fish, and what you are allowed to catch and keep. The DNR also has a Lakefinder site, optimized for mobile.

Also new this year (compared to last): the weather might be decent. Low temperatures Friday night into Saturday will dip into the 40s, with 30s in the north. But much of the state will hit highs Saturday in the 60s and even 70s in the far south, forecasters say. Most of Minnesota will see some sunshine Saturday morning, with a chance of afternoon showers, WCCO reports.

After a long cold winter, ice is still receding on some northern Minnesota lakes. Check out the DNR's map for expected ice-out dates.

The Austin Daily Herald has more about the business of Minnesota fishing. The $2 billion fishing industry in Minnesota supports more than 35,000 state jobs, with an average annual expenditure per angler near $1,500, according to state stats.

A few other fast facts from the DNR:

– Minnesota has 1.5 million licensed anglers

– The state has more than 10,000 lakes – 11,842, actually – 5,400 of which are managed by DNR fisheries.

– There are 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, including 3,600 miles of trout streams.

– Minnesota is the third most popular inland fishing destination in the country.

– Minnesota ranks sixth among states with the highest number of anglers. The top three states are Florida, Texas and Michigan.

– Most of the state's anglers – 855,000 – are from urban areas. The remaining 474,000 resident anglers live in greater Minnesota.

– Minnesota anglers are 66 percent male, 34 percent female.

– The average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year, with 84 percent of resident anglers never fishing anywhere else but Minnesota.

– The most sought-after fish species, in order of preference, are crappie, panfish, walleye and northern pike.

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