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Get out and enjoy the fishing in the lakes area

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There's something fishy going on around here: Lots of out-of-towners around, people carrying poles around at midnight, boats slipping into the lakes, men carrying plastic baggies of what can only be illicit -- minnows.

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The walleye opener started at midnight Friday, and we hope you get out to enjoy one of the things that draws people from all over to Minnesota -- the fishing.

It's not even necessarily about catching fish -- though they are a tasty reward, especially if you've got a good frying recipe.

It's a great excuse to get out on the water, to hear the slap of waves on the side of the boat, smell the lake, and feel the breeze on your face or the heat on your back. Or the drizzle on your head, of course, depending on the weather.

For those who don't need to catch the regular limit, or who just want to save some money (we are in a recession, after all) the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering a fisherman-friendly licensing option this year.

The conservation license, available only to Minnesota residents, is slightly less expensive than a regular fishing license, with the agreement that an angler's limit is half of that for a normal license.

For example, walleye anglers would normally have a limit of six fish, but with the conservation license, the angler would be limited to three.

For odd number limits, the half-limit rounds down, so for northern pike, which has a regular limit of three fish, an angler would only get to keep one.

A regular individual fishing license for the season is $17. The individual conservation license is $11. A normal combined license is $25, but the conservation version is $17.

Make sure you have that license and pay attention to your limit, too, because area DNR conservation officers will be out in full force this weekend.

The weather looks promising, with highs in the 50s. We're optimistic that this year's opener will be better than last year, which was unseasonably cold.

We hope the area is popular with visitors. Gas prices are much less than they were last year (The national average was $3.72 per gallon last May) and a day on the lake is reasonably cheap entertainment. Local retailers could use the business that a busy opener brings.

As always, be careful out there, but it's been a long, hard winter, and now it's time for a little fun.

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