Saturday's fishing opener: Conservation officers prepare for work in pandemic

a conservation officer examines a boat
DNR conservation officer Jacob Swedberg checks a boat registration at a public landing on Detroit Lake last Friday.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

The Minnesota walleye fishing opener is Saturday, and lakes are expected to be busy. The state Department of Natural Resources says fishing license sales are up significantly from the last two years.

The DNR is encouraging anglers to fish close to home this year, as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

DNR conservation officers are looking ahead to the busy weekend, considering how to do their jobs in the middle of a pandemic.

a bearded man wearing a badge stands near a lake
Conservation officer Jacob Swedberg is preparing for a busy angling season in the era of social distancing.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

On a busy summer weekend they might encounter dozens of anglers — checking licenses, inspecting the catch, talking about fishing hot spots.

Conservation officer Jacob Swedberg’s territory covers northwestern Minnesota lake country around Detroit Lakes. As he looks ahead to this year’s opener, he ponders how his work will change in the midst of the pandemic — with social distancing in place and a newly issued mask and hand sanitizer at the ready.

Click on the audio player above to hear from Jacob Swedberg.

a conservation officer looks at a license held by a man wearing a mask
Swedberg checks the permit of a man working to install docks and boat lifts on Detroit Lake last week. Checking a permit or license without touching it is one way for officers to respect social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

COVID-19 in Minnesota

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