500,000 Anglers Anticipated at Massive MN Fishing Opener

The Land of 10,000 Lakes’ spring fishing opener will likely be among the largest in the country.

With 11,842 lakes, 69,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, this weekend’s Minnesota fishing opener is likely to put more than a few fish on the grill.

The state said it expects 500,000 anglers to open the season. And for 72 years, Minnesota’s governor has been a part of the process. This year, Governor Tim Walz will celebrate the opener on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea, Minn., from May 9 to 12.

“In the beautiful Albert Lea area, Fountain Lake offers great fishing and travel opportunities,” Gov. Walz said. “I thank the community for hosting this 72nd annual Minnesota tradition, and look forward to opening this year’s summer fishing season.”


Lukas Leaf, executive director of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters, pegs it as a brutal place for the opener — ice still abounds in much of the wilderness — but an incredible place to kick off the season.

“It’s great to see so many other Minnesotans willing to put up with a little cold weather to catch fish,” Leaf said, “It really speaks to what makes Minnesota unique: our 10,000 lakes, our clean water, and a bunch of die-hard anglers eager to get out on the water.”

While most anglers will look to land some of the state’s abundant walleye, Minnesota boasts a diverse population of prize fish. For many, Minnesota’s opener marks the unofficial kickoff to summer and long days on the lake. Good luck to everyone heading out this weekend!

Nicole Qualtieri

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.