With the Minnesota Fishing Opener days away (Saturday, May 9) anglers may be altering their usual plans. I've chatted with a couple of people who usually go out on the opener. One who normally travels Up North and another always floats around on local lakes in the Steele/Rice County area.

The individual who usually travels will also be keeping it local this year as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Governor Walz have encouraged enthusiasts to stay close to home this year.

The interest level in fishing seems to be sky-high this year. The Star Tribune reported recently that sales of fishing licenses were more than 40-percent ahead of the 2019 pace. Visit the DNR's website to find out how to purchase a license and other information.

A DNR news release catches up with Ray Ruiz, a hunting and fishing liaison with the department. He says, "The biggest mistake I see beginner anglers, as well as season anglers, make is their misconception that the have to go "Up North" to catch quality fish."

Ruiz replies to the query of "what is the best lake to fish?' by saying, "What is the closest lake to you? That is the best lake...you can get to it quickly. Fishing close to home allows you more time with your line in the water and that time leads to learning, which leads to catching more fish."

He suggests people go fishing early in the day, "This will help you avoid both traffic and crowds. The morning bite is some of the best fishing because fish are very active in low light conditions, especially in the morning before the sun comes up."

A recent survey found Minnesota was tops in the nation in the popularity of fishing.