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Icy fishing opener hurts Minn. economy

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Fishing is more than a deeply submerged part of Minnesota culture – it's an important engine in the state's economy.

So it's more than just a bummer for state anglers that Saturday's fishing opener has been hampered by ice on many of the state's northern lakes. The late start to the walleye fishing season will have a chilling effect on fishing-related businesses and the state's vibrant resort industry.

Opening weekend is typically one of the busiest weekends for resort communities, MPR reports. But this year's slow start will hurt communities around Lake Mille Lacs, which is important to the economy in east-central Minnesota, MPR notes.

Twin Pines Resort owner Linda Eno said her Mille Lacs resort is typically packed and buzzing this weekend, MPR reported. But only eight of 13 rooms are booked this year. "And there's no sense getting upset because there's not much you can do," she told MPR.

It's been since 1950 that so many of the lakes have been this affected by a lingering winter in northeastern Minnesota, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

A few smaller lakes have opened up, but most remained icebound with little prospect of opening by Saturday. The ripple effects spread through the likes of Grand Rapids and Deer River, where the tourism economies are driven by fishing, the News Tribune reports.

Particularly hard hit are bait shops, where rare customers are more interested in a little conversation than buying anything, the News Tribune reports. Grand Rapids fishing guide Tom Neustrom said he hasn't seen anything like it in 34 years.

"It’s the biggest weekend of the year," he told the newspaper. "It’s a tremendous revenue loss. Are they going to make it up? No.”

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