Fourteen-year-old Brandyn Cope of Ogilvie beat the weekend crowd by fishing from the Ann River-Fish Lake public access dock on Tuesday. 


Minnesota fishing opener isn’t until May 9, but already there has been more activity than usual at area lakes which has stirred some concern.

Warm weather, a nice crappie bite and people eager to do something outside of their homes are likely motivators in a surge of fishing activity.

Kanabec County Sheriff Brian Smith reported anglers have crowded the shoreline and fishing piers of area lakes, creating a flood of calls to their office and concern about social distancing compliance. 

“It was worse than opening fishing,” Smith said. “It was a little frustrating.”

At first, deputies closed off the Knife Lake fishing pier near County Road 19 to discourage crowding. Instead, anglers crowded along areas of the shore and near the road creating a different kind of safety problem. 

Complaints to the Sheriff’s Office included anglers were relieving themselves among nearby shrubs and trees.  The Knife Lake rest stop hadn’t re-opened, therefore no portable toilet was installed yet. The County will make sure to have one installed before fishing opener. 

To encourage the crowds to spread out, deputies made frequent patrols and made loud announcements on their public address system. Smith said anglers started to get the hint and did begin spreading out. 

Take Mom Fishing

On Saturday, May 9, the season opens for walleye, sauger, northern pike and trout in lakes. This weekend is also Mother’s Day and what better way to celebrate mom than to take her fishing? All moms fish for free during “Take a Mom Fishing Weekend.”

All other anglers from ages 16 to 89 are required to have a valid fishing license.  Anglers can purchase licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers will receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. Anglers must be in possession of their license when fishing or traveling from an area where they were fishing. According to the DNR, the top two fishing-related regulation violations are for not having a license in possession and not having a valid license.


The DNR is urging Minnesota anglers to stay close to home this year.  “We are very fortunate to have a multitude of quality lakes in our area that do not require much travel to get to,” said DNR Area Fisheries Supervisor Leslie George.

The DNR is also reminding anglers and boaters to practice social distancing on the shore, at launches and on the water. 

Maintain social distance of at least 6 feet. This includes places such as fuel stations and community docks, and means no beaching or tying up to other boats.

Boat only with people in your immediate household.

Boat close to home. Travel to and from the access site without making other stops.

When launching and loading your boat, give people ahead of you plenty of time and space to finish launching or loading before you approach.

DNR Conservation Officer Bret Grundmeier said they are predicting higher numbers at public accesses and on lakes this coming weekend. “During this weekend’s fishing opener, we will be reminding people to follow the social distancing order, with the goal of gaining voluntary compliance if we come across violations.  As long as there is voluntary compliance there will be no further action taken,” said Grundmeier.

Grundmeier went on to say that boaters and anglers are going to have to use “common sense and be extra patient.  They should expect to maybe wait a little longer for their turn at the boat ramp.” He also suggested doing your homework and have a backup plan in case your first destination is already full. “We will be out patrolling lakes and accesses keeping an eye on things,” he concluded.


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