Minnesota's 2009 fishing season opened this morning, and as many as a million anglers may wet a line in the state's waters in coming days.
Dave Schad directs the fish and wildlife division of Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources and said interest seems to be rising for the opener. He said fishing license sales are up slightly, and Iowa and Wisconsin saw a similar rise.
"There's some speculation that with the economy people are staying closer to home and things like fishing are kind of an attractive option for families," Schad said. "And that's great. We've been kind of concerned about some downward trends in license sales and participation in some outdoor recreation activities. So its nice to see people taking an interest again in outdoor activities like fishing and camping and so on."
Governor Pawlenty made an appearance on White Bear Lake at 3:30 this morning to mark the occasion. Pawlenty reeled in a 15-inch Northern around 7:30 a.m.
Sara Markoe-Hanson, executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society, said it's the first time in many years that the Governor's Fishing Opener has been held on a metro lake.
"The fishing opener has never been done on a metro area lake before in the 61 years they've been doing this event and its such a great fit if you're going to bring it back to the metro area," Hanson said. "Its a great fit to do it right at Minnesota's first resort town."
Pawlenty has a string of catching at least one fish at each Governor's Fishing Opener.
Markoe-Hanson said extra walleye were not brought to the lake just for the governor's visit. She said it's always been a popular fishing destination.
The water level on White Bear Lake is at almost record lows, though not quite as low as the record low set in 1991.
The state's salmon and stream trout season opened April 18. The statewide bass season opens May 23 and the musky season opens June 6.