Unless you didn’t realize it…fishing is big here in Minnesota. Roughly speaking, about one in every four adult residents purchase a Minnesota fishing license. I’ve also heard it estimated that about one for every seven state residents have a registered boat in their name. And yet there is only one day of the year when more than a million anglers will take to Minnesota’s waters at the same time for the primary purpose of catching the state fish — the walleye.
That’s right, the Minnesota Fishing Opener is but 10 days away and already the hype and excitement is beginning to crescendo. (Click HERE to listen to a song put out by Rapala) So you don’t think the “Fishing Opener” is a uniquely Minnesota event? Granted, I know there are fishing openers in many parts of the country for various species, but I dare say nothing quite compares to the hype that takes place in Minnesota. Need more proof? Do a Google search with the words “fishing opener.” Listings relating to Minnesota outnumber all other states by a margin of about three to one.
Not only is the fishing opener big business here in Minnesota, but in many families it has grown to be a big bone of contention as predominantly the males of the household head off to the lake fishing. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be so terrible…but what makes matters worse is the almost perennial conflict of the MN Fishing Opener weekend with Mother’s Day. In fact, only in the years 2011, 2016, 2022 and 2033 during the next 25+ years will the opener be the weekend after Mother’s Day. That being said, for many sportsmen here in this state we must annually live with the guilt and disappointment of missing another Mother’s Day.
Even the Minnesota DNR must feel a bit guilty causing this common family predicament. In fact, a few years ago they initiated the “Take A Mom Fishing” weekend that just happens to coincide with Mother’s Day weekend. All bona fide mother’s can fish the opener without a license. Hmmm… That’s pretty interesting. You don’t see a similar such freebie when Father’s Day rolls around a month later.
Needless to say that ever since Minnesota went with this current structure on their fishing season it has caused a great deal of angst among many. Oh, sure, the solution sounds rather simple. Just take mom fishing! But often the simplest solutions to a problem does not often coexist in harmony with reality. Even moms who love fishing don’t always favor doing so on “their special day.” And so the age-old problem usually develops forcing anglers to make an uncomfortable choice.
This year I’m once again leaving my mother and my wife for the inviting call of fish camp. Do I feel a bit guilty for my angling absence…well, of course I do. In my mind, however, the tradition of socializing and communing with a bunch of like-minded sportsmen in fish camp is nearly as important. Certainly there will be much better days ahead for fishing later in the season. Even the weather is likely to be much more cooperative and pleasant a month from now. Yet, nothing quite equates to the inexplicable mystique of being in Fish Camp on the Minnesota Fishing Opener. The excitement…the history…the camaraderie…and let’s not forget, the price we all pay (some more so than others) for abandoning the women in our life in lieu of a fish with big ol’ glass eyes. Ahh….to live the life of a fisherman!!
2007 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission