Minnesota state parks offer free fishing opener for everyone
No one should feel left out when talk turns - as it does this time of year - to plans for the big Minnesota fishing opener.
Any state resident who wants to participate in that annual rite of spring can now do so easily and for free at most Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.
Minnesota residents no longer need a license when shore-fishing at most lakes within Minnesota state parks, including Lake Carlos State Park. A change in state law, which went into effect in July 2009, made the free fishing possible. Other rules and regulations apply, such as the legal limit of fish that can be caught. Details, including a map showing where to find the free fishing opportunities, can be found online at mndnr.gov (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/fishing.html).
In addition to stocking Minnesota lakes and streams with fish, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also stocks parks with fishing kits that visitors can borrow for free. The fishing kits, which include a pole and tackle, are now available at 30 state parks. Check out the list of where to find free loaner equipment (also including GPS units, binoculars and bird guides, and activities for kids) at mndnr.gov (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/loaner.html).
For those who lack experience or want to improve their fishing skills, Minnesota state parks provide free I Can Fish! programs throughout the spring and summer. These hands-on learning opportunities cover fish identification, casting, knot-tying and more. Fishing gear is provided for use during the programs. Fishing licenses are not required. Experienced anglers demonstrate skills and then give participants plenty of time to practice. Check the online calendar at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/can_fish.html for a complete schedule.
For tips on fishing with families and a list of 10 parks with especially good fishing opportunities, visit mndnr.gov or call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.