The economic impact of the fishing season is staggering, but it's the individual memories the sport creates that makes it a Minnesota treasure.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that 1.4 million state residents are licensed anglers and that 500,000 will hit the state's lakes and rivers for the walleye and northern pike opener Saturday, May 13. Minnesota has a resident participation rate of 32 percent, behind only Alaska. Nearly 5,500 of Minnesota lakes are considered good for fishing.

The DNR cites a National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report to show that fishing contributes nearly $2.5 billion to the state's economy in direct retail sales. The fishing industry supports more than 35,000 jobs statewide.

The memories created on the water and the time spent with family and friends can't have a dollar figure put on it, but is a main reason why so many people will wet a line this weekend. The fact that a winter coat isn't necessary is a bonus.

While my son and I aren't regulars, he and I have enjoyed numerous trips to the lake. He had a knack for casting right away and seemed to enjoy that as much as catching anything, for a little while at least. He never shied away from baiting a hook either.

My daughter is a bit of a different story. I took her to a kids fishing event at Lake Kohlmier when she was early elementary age. She caught a fish and held it at arm's length with a look of concern on her face. I had to remind her that her goal was to catch a fish and she should smile. I took a quick picture before her smile faded.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will spend the governor's opener on the Mississippi River in the St. Cloud area. The DNR fact sheet indicates the average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year. This weekend should be a good one to get in at least a couple of those days.

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