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DNR recruits and retains anglers through blitz campaign

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants you -- to "go fish".

Watch for reminders to "cast a line" in your mailbox, on digital billboards, in radio ads and at St. Paul Saints and Minnesota Twins games.

The DNR is also sending 40,000 reminder postcards to former anglers who did not purchase a 2007 fishing license last year.

"Fishing is incredibly popular in Minnesota," said C.B. Bylander, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division outreach chief. "Yet the percent of Minnesotans who fish is declining. As a result, we are looking at proactive new ways to recruit anglers and retain those we have."

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation is helping offset costs of the direct mail and billboard efforts. It is also investing $1 million in radio advertising in Minnesota and 29 other states to support its Take Me Fishing campaign.

Bylander said one of this year's new slogans, "The Fish Bites the Lure, and Yet, You Get Hooked," was developed by an advertising agency hired through RBFF. This slogan will be used in 30 states this spring.

Nationally, angling participation is on a downward trend. From 1996 to 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated a 12 percent decrease.

In Minnesota, fishing license sales have bucked that trend and remained relatively stable yet interest in angling has not kept pace with population growth.

Bylander said "Years ago nearly 40 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and over purchased a fishing license. Today, it's about 28 percent."

Research has shown that anglers list spending time with family and friends among top reasons they fish, and that fishing builds connections to nature.

The DNR offers programs to encourage fishing by children and adults. The agency recently hired Mike Kurre, formerly of Gander Mountain, to head-up an angling mentoring program.

Minnesota's 2008 fishing licenses are now sale at retail outlets. Licenses can also be purchased by calling (888) 665-4236 or online at