MADISON LAKE, Minn. (KEYC) - The walleye, sauger and northern pike fishing opener is Saturday, May 9th, and this year’s opener falls during a time when practicing social distancing is the new norm.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is encouraging people to fish close to home, and many stores, like Corner Bait, are putting social distancing into practice.
Owner Nathan Greene said the store has even implemented a vending machine outside of the store so people can purchase bait without having to come in.
“We did some reorganization as far as like, the isles as far as traffic flow. Trying to help keep people with that social distancing," he said.
Greene said on opening day, where boat launches are typically crowded, patience is going to be key when practicing social distancing.
DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said people are also encouraged to fish close to home.
“It really is to make sure we don’t spread the COVID-19 virus through travel, especially given that we know many of our fishing hot spots coincide with rural communities that have populations that are perhaps more virus-vulnerable," she said.
That means no overnight stays, bringing all of the supplies that you need with you so that you don’t have to stop on the way and then only going as far as you can go and return on a single tank of gas.
The DNR also had to cancel their 2020 egg take operations due to social distancing practices.
Egg take operations typically take place during the spring to hatch fish and stock them back into the lakes.
The DNR said there should be no long-term effect.
Waterville Area Fisheries Supervisor Craig Soupir also has suggestions for fishing close to home in southern Minnesota.
“Lake Crystal, Mills and Loon Lake to the west of town here in Mankato, that’s had some good fishing over the last year. If you hit south of town, Bass Lake has been really good for Walleye," Soupir said.
Greene said he’s looking forward to opening day.
“We’re all in the same boat. We’re excited to be out fishing. We all want to get out on the water. We all just have to remember that it’s going to take some time," he said.
The DNR is also encouraging people to get their fishing licenses early and online or by phone to avoid person to person contact.