The Department of Natural Resources is advising the public that, while most of its 1,700 statewide public water accesses have undergone basic safety maintenance, docks and other amenities will not all be in place before the May 9 fishing opener.

“I want Minnesotans to know that we are working hard to ready our access sites for the fishing season,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Ramps are functional at most sites, but not all of the usual amenities like docks will be fully deployed by this weekend’s opener. There will be plenty of great places to fish and boat close to home.”

All DNR-managed public water accesses are open for use; however, the water may be high, the ramp may have some damage, or the dock may not be installed. As well, hundreds of sites – while functional – may need additional repairs because winter’s freezing temperatures and ice caused concrete to crack and buckle, so anglers should exercise extra caution when launching and loading boats this spring.

Furthermore, some accesses managed by local or federal partners may not be open by the May 9 fishing opener, and boaters may therefore experience greater traffic at nearby DNR-managed accesses.

The DNR manages about half of the approximately 3,000 public water accesses, or boat launches, in Minnesota.

As a reminder, the DNR is urging all anglers to fish close to home and follow guidelines that minimize potential points of transmission for the virus. These guidelines include:

  • No overnight stays.
  • Bring all needed supplies with you.
  • Only go as far as you can travel and return on a single tank of gas or single charge for EV drivers.

These guidelines are designed to protect rural communities that are home to older populations or American Indians who have a higher incidence of underlying health conditions. Many of Minnesotans’ favorite fishing spots are in or near these communities.

“This is not the time to travel long distances to fish since travel can spread the COVID-19 virus, particularly to rural communities that may have more virus-vulnerable populations,” Strommen said. “We know that anglers don’t just go to the boat ramp; they also visit the convenience store, gas station and grocery store.”

Other recommendations for anglers for the opener weekend:

  • Maintain appropriate social distancing by staying at least 6 feet from people from other households. This is essential at boat launches, shore fishing areas, and fishing piers.
  • Fish with those in their immediate household and maintain a minimum six-foot distance from other boats at all times. Beaching or rafting with other boats is not allowed.
  • When launching or loading a boat, give those ahead plenty of time and space to finish launching or loading before approaching.

For more information about DNR-managed accesses, visit the DNR’s Public Water Access webpage. More information about fishing is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/fishing.

Boaters and anglers can email the DNR Info Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or call 888-646-6367 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.