Saturday is the big day! Roughly half a million Minnesotans will escape to their favorite lake to take part in the 2023 Minnesota Fishing Opener, celebrated annually since 1948, when the first Governor's Fishing Opener was conducted at Wahkon, on Mille Lacs Lake. In fact, 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the event, which will take place in Mankato this year. It's the kickoff to the walleye, sauger and northern pike season, and with any luck any remaining ice will be off lakes across the Northland.

What's New in 2023?

You need to be fully up to speed on new walleye regulations, specifically protected slot limits: "All walleye in possession while on or fishing in the following waters must be less than 18 inches in length or greater than 24 inches in length. All walleye that are 18 to 24 inches in length, inclusive, must be immediately returned to the water."

Fishing was better than the "catching". Credit: Paul Douglas
Fishing was better than the "catching". Credit: Paul Douglas
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A tough winter and late ice-out has sparked talk of live bait shortages this year and some ponds and smaller lakes have experienced winterkill, according to local experts. A minnow shortage may be with us through much of 2023.

What is the Walleye Limit in Minnesota in 2023?

The Walleye/Sauger aggregate limit is six (no more than four can be Walleye). Walleye from 19.5 through 28 inches must be immediately released. Only one Walleye over 28 inches total length may be possessed, according to Lake of the Woods Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says anglers on Upper Red Lake will have a five-walleye possession limit, with only one walleye longer than 17 inches allowed.

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2023 Ice Out Dates. Credit: MN DNR
2023 Ice Out Dates. Credit: MN DNR
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The map above depicts lake ice out date reports received by the DNR and the MPCA for 2023. Remember, that water is colder than average with the late ice-out. The MN DNR reminds us that: 30 percent of boating fatalities happen on cold water where the victim is more likely to die by drowning than of hypothermia. Wearing a life jacket, not just bringing it, can save your life.

Friendly Reminder:

Don't forget your life jacket or your fishing license. According to the Minnesota DNR: To legally fish in Minnesota, anyone age 16 to 89 needs a fishing license unless an exemption applies. There are a variety of licenses available depending on your residency status, type of angling and duration. You must carry your license while fishing or traveling from an area where you were fishing. The weather? It won't snow, which is a good start, but showers are possible Saturday with a cool breeze. Jacket weather. A closer look at when and where it might rain as we get closer to the Fishing Opener. As my late mom liked to say: keep your expectations low - maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised!

10 Mishaps That Happen On A MN Fishing Opener

The Minnesota Fishing Opener is basically a state holiday. As we head out on the lakes for those elusive walleye and aggressive Northern Pike, let's take a moment to laugh about some of the common mishaps that we've all experienced on that first day on the water.

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