A recent announcement put Minnesota fishing license sales down 20 percent to date. Contributing factors for the decline: an aging Baby Boomer population and rural populations stable in number, but diverse urban populations on the rise. Getting to fishing areas from urban areas can be challenging enough to deter participation. Folks living in Minnesota lake country are balancing the demands of work and family, lacking the time for fishing.
Roxanne Blanchard, before moving to Park Rapids in 1975, fished casually with her father. Bit by the fishing bug on Mother's Day 1998 when the Minnesota DNR allowed mothers to fish on their day for free, without a license, Blanchard recalled that day. "I caught a huge bass by accident, had to release it. Bass season was closed. As the fish swam away, a desire to fish became deeply embedded, hook, line and sinker," she said. Since that day Roxanne has enjoyed numerous fly-in fishing trips, joined by husband Tiny, son Kyle and a number of close friends and family.
During the Fourth of July, my family looked forward to spending quality time together each and every year at a place called the cabin. The family cabin wasn't fancy and paled in luxury compared to those we see on the lakes today. The walls weren't insulated. In the interior, there were just the bare necessities for spending time "at the lake." It's on a lake with good fishing, private, and not over 60 minutes drive time to get there.
The DNR engaged a group of 14 stakeholders for the purpose of providing input in the management planning process. This group, referred to as the Lake of the Woods Fisheries Input Group, provided diverse local and statewide perspectives and made recommendations on Lake of the Woods fisheries management. The 2018-2023 plan builds upon the successes of and knowledge gained from previous plans by recommending specific goals, objectives and management actions aimed at preserving a high-quality, species-diverse fishery on Lake of the Woods.
An area angler put it this way: "My walleye fishing can be best called 'ho-hum.'" Another angler called it "here today, gone tomorrow." It goes without saying, walleyes are not the only species of fish in and around the Park Rapids region. Our lakes have an abundance of bass, northern pike, panfish and crappie.
Historically, Minnesota fishing openers are best described in two words: hit or miss. This year, history repeated itself. The 2018 fishing opener with the annual Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener held in the central part of the state at Green Lake in Spicer. Every year it's in a different location highlighting a local community as prime spot for tourism. "We had a great time," Gov. Dayton said, "I caught three bass, which made my whole day, made my last Fishing Opener very special."
Fishing from a kayak is inexpensive, simple and allows accessibility to great out of the way fishing spots. Kayaks very versatile, with no limit to the places to fish. For myself, having fished most of my whole life, fishing from a kayak never promised to have a lot of appeal — until unsinkable, sit-on-top kayaks came on the market. Kayaks for fishing are rapidly becoming the real deal. Originally as means for transportation and great exercise, they are increasingly popular due to their broad appeal to men, women and children.
CHIRP Sonar continues to be a buzz word in fish-finding technology. Developed in the 1950s by the military, it now comes standard on all the major fishing electronics manufacturers. Not limited to deep water use, anglers are also reaping the benefits of CHIRP technology for use in shallow waters. "Traditional sonar relies on just one or two frequencies to provide all the information to the processor, which limits the level of detail that can be produced," according to Jacob Scott of Lowrance Electronics.
One a recent Sunday, I took a break from fishing. Morning church service and lunch someplace sounded good. My wife, Deb, reminded me of a writers workshop held later in the afternoon in Bagley with author Will Weaver. I admitted to seeing the notice in the Enterprise. My wife taped it to the kitchen counter, a daily reminder. Or a subtle way to say help is needed with my writing. Anyway reason enough to make the drive to Bagley.
What impact does better fishing electronics have on the fisheries resource? How does fishing spots marked with GPS coordinates, shared readily with others, affect game fish populations? Or the growing popularity of luxury home sleeper wheelhouses? What will the additional day and night fishing pressure do to the fishing and the resource?