I spent some time this past weekend organizing photos from the past year and I was reminded of how much fun my kids and I had fishing throughout the state of Minnesota. We logged a lot of miles and even though we didn’t get out nearly as much as we’d hoped to, we had some high quality fishing on those outings.

We fished on Upper Gull Lake near Brainerd and had a great time catching eight and nine-inch bluegills off the dock. We also fished the lake from a boat and caught a ton of chunky largemouth. Motoring down the chain onto the big waters of Gull Lake, we caught a few meals of walleye and my son caught the biggest walleye of his life, a gorgeous 27-incher. 

On the Mississippi River near St. Cloud my kids started off catching rock bass and then we tied into some bruiser smallmouth bass. My daughter has claimed those as her favorite species since they fight so hard.

We fished on Mille Lacs, both through the ice and open water, and my son set another personal best with a 28-inch northern pike. On our latest outing, my daughter got to say she out-fished both her big brother and I with some quality walleye action.

Since both of my kids are still fairly young, seven and nine years old, we don’t spend hours upon hours on the water. Our outings are a few hours long, we have plenty of distractions and opportunities to learn while we are on the water, and we probably miss more fish than we catch. They are learning and that’s part of the process, but I’m very glad to have such a wide choice of waters to choose from and quality fisheries to know that even my clumsy guiding will put them on fish every time.

Minnesota has 5,400 managed fishing lakes and many of them are considered “world class” fisheries. People consider Minnesota to be a dream fishing destination and I’m proud that my home waters are the envy of millions. I’d like to keep it that way, and that’s why I’ll gladly fork over a few extra dollars for my licenses this year.

Something that’s always been interesting to me is that the game and fish fund is primarily funded by user fees, and not taxes. This means all fish, wildlife and law enforcement activities of the DNR are paid for by hunters and anglers.

The DNR states that if the increases are enacted this Legislative session, it will keep the game and fish fund above the water until 2021. That’s long enough to get my kids to the brink of becoming teenagers, and I’ll gladly fork over a few more dollars then as well. If the Legislature passes the increase this session, the next four years will keep the fishing opportunities solid and give my kids and I a good chance to spend more time on the water together.

If it doesn’t pass, I’m not sure what good those extra few bucks will afford me. I might be able to afford an extra lure, or another gallon of gas, but we’ll probably have to spend a whole lot more just to have a quality fishing experience north, or east, of the border.