Which lakes have the best walleye fishing? Which streams contain native brook trout? Is a slot limit the best way to increase fish size? What's the link between farming practices and fish populations?
Such are the questions answered regularly by DNR fisheries managers throughout the state. Providing this information and educating interested anglers, lakeshore owners, and kids is among the most important work we do.
Anglers in particular are ravenous for DNR Fisheries information. Each day the DNR web site gets more than 60,000 "page hits," mostly from people looking up lake survey reports. In spring the DNR Information Center gets hundreds of phone calls and e-mail requests each day, mostly from anglers.
Local fisheries managers meet regularly with many of the more than 300 fishing groups and 600 lake associations throughout the state. The managers listen to concerns of the anglers and lakeshore owners, present lake survey information, propose experimental regulations, and discuss the state of local lakes and streams. Fisheries managers also give presentations to school groups and civic groups, talk regularly on radio shows, provide information to reporters, and field questions from visiting anglers and real estate agents.
To reach an even broader audience, fisheries managers appear at fairs and other events. The DNR building at the Minnesota State Fair is one of the biggest, attracting 700,000 fairgoers each year. For many families, no trip to the State Fair is complete without a stroll past the aquariums inside the DNR building and a stop at the outdoor fish pond to marvel at the large muskies, gar, paddlefish, bass, and other species.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, most rural counties in Minnesota lost populations, while urban counties gained. One result of this growing urbanization of Minnesota's populace is that fewer kids are growing up near lakes and streams.
To increase public (particularly urban public) knowledge about lakes, streams, and fisheries, we developed the MinnAqua aquatic education program. MinnAqua's main goal is to teach kids to fish while providing basic instruction on lake and stream ecology, fisheries conservation, and angling ethics.
Over the past 10 years, MinnAqua has reached ore than 250,000 kids throughout Minnesota, mainly in the urban areas of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Rochester, and Duluth.
MinnAqua staff work with schools, resorts, and sport shows to get pro-fishing, pro-environment messages out to kids. MinnAqua is also a part of UnderWater World at the Mall of America and has teamed up with the Minnesota Fishing Museum in Little Falls to promote aquatic education there.
"We continued to be amazed," says one fisheries manager of the phenomenal public interest in fisheries information on the DNR web site.
Currently, the site receives more than 60,000 page hits per day and the number increases yearly. Most visitors look up survey information, available for more than 4,500 lakes and streams. Here they can learn:
Also on the DNR web site is the heavily visited fishing page. Here anglers can learn about the management and regulations of all game fish species, as well as additional angling information.