It wasn't the warmest of Minnesota Fishing Openers on Saturday, May 9, not to mention the potential impact the coronavirus pandemic may have on the statewide tradition.

But if the COVID-19 pandemic kept some people away, it wasn't noticeable on some lakes and rivers throughout the state.

"Early this morning, I would say there was just as many as ever, if not more,” said Nate Stark of Elbow Lake of the boats on Lake Mary, a body of water he has fished many other times on the opener. “I’d say I’m always excited (for the opener), but I was less prepared ahead of time this year. Just not going places and not getting to the store.”

Boats and trailers line the public access on Lake Oscar in Douglas County at about 9 a.m. on May 9. Eric Morken / Forum News Service
Boats and trailers line the public access on Lake Oscar in Douglas County at about 9 a.m. on May 9. Eric Morken / Forum News Service

And fishing may just be the distraction Minnesotans are looking for. Last week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported the sale of fishing licenses were up 45% from the same time in 2019.

“I talked to a couple of my fishing buddies from up north, one from Brainerd and one from Bemidji, (Friday) night,” said Mike Frisch, who lives in the Alexandria area.

“They both said that the bait shops up there were sold out of shiners and people were out and about. I don’t think it’s just here. I think it was all over."

Tyler Erickson of Morgan Park holds a stringer of fish his party caught during the Minnesota fishing opener on the St. Louis River in the Fond du Lac neighborhood in Duluth. Clint Austin / Forum News Service
Tyler Erickson of Morgan Park holds a stringer of fish his party caught during the Minnesota fishing opener on the St. Louis River in the Fond du Lac neighborhood in Duluth. Clint Austin / Forum News Service

Eric Morken, Clint Austin and Jillian Gandsey contributed to this report.