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Your Survival Guide to the 2012 Minnesota Fishing Opener

Patch is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know before heading out this weekend.

Minnesota has seen more than its fair share of cold, wet and windy fishing openers, but it doesn't look like 2012 will be one of them. Forecasts call for clear skies with morning lows in the upper 40s and afternoon highs in the high 70s.

The fishing season officially begins at the stroke of midnight, and Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expects anglers to find a good bite throughout the state. Read the metro area fishing outlook here.

Minnesota is the nation’s leader in fishing participation (28 percent of residents age 16 or older buy a license). About 500,000 anglers typically hit the water on opening day, and about 1.4 million people buy Minnesota fishing licenses each year.

Fishing licenses are available at most local gas stations here in St. Michael, including Kwik Trip and Holiday. Midwest Archery is also a licensed DNR dealer.

Minnesota's general fishing opener is the Saturday two weeks before Memorial Day weekend.

Why? Three main reasons:

  1. It allows most walleyes to spawn before being caught by anglers
  2. It ensures that the opener is on a weekend, when most anglers can fish
  3. This date ensures two full weekends for anglers and businesses before the Memorial Day weekend.

Water temperatures of most Minnesota lakes, to include Lake Minnetonka, still pose a threat to angler safety.

A 2007 report by the U.S. Coast Guard stated that a boating accident is five times more likely to be fatal if the water is colder than 60 degrees.

So what do you need to know before wetting your first line of the season?

First, . From zebra mussels and carp to milfoil and curly leaf, the state is cracking down on boaters who don't follow proper invasive species protocols. In fact, fishermen can .

There are also some changes to  

If you're looking to wet a line without a lot of travel, you won't have to look far. From the deep waters of Lake Minnetonka to shore fishing on the banks of the St. Croix or Mississippi, the . Pelican Lake and Beebe Lake are also known to have their share of fish, ranging from panfish to pike, including the beloved walleye.

This year's ice out occurred earlier than usual in Minnesota, so what does that mean for the 2012 fishing season? Two of Minnesota's leading fisheries biologists explain the trends and .

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