Seasons Greetings Fishing Friends,

At this moment, some of you are tucked comfortably in your ice fishing lairs waiting for the next bite; others have tucked their fishing boats and tackle away to await warmer days ahead. In the meantime, MN-FISH has continued to push for better fishing, winter or summer.

We helped create this video to educate ice anglers about the issue of garbage left on the ice, including human waste.

DNR Legislator Hatchery Education Tour

In November, executive director Mark Holsten along with board member Garry Leaf, organized an education tour of DNR’s vital Waterville Fish Hatchery. They were joined by state senator Rich Draheim, whose district includes Waterville.

MN-FISH also hosted a meeting between Minnesota minnow producers and the DNR in the hopes to find solutions for eliminating the chronic minnow shortage. Yes, it’s a big deal.

Legislation Updates

Now and into next year, MN-FISH will again enlist lobbyists and others to campaign for increased state spending on our fisheries resources, including:

  • $60 Million to fix hatcheries
  • $37 Millions to repair boat access

Yes, we had those same requests in the 2022 bonding bill supported by both sides of the aisle, including Gov. Walz.

So, what happened?

Our legislators went home without passing a bonding bill. We were left with lobbyist bills to pay and an empty stringer. But we ain’t going away folks.

I hope this explains why we continue to ask for financial support from you and others. It costs money to play the game at the Capitol, although I wonder who-in-hell can oppose Minnesota’s fishing traditions?


Ron Schara,

MN-FISH President







MN-FISH to “Give the Gift of Fishing”

Thanks to the generosity of MN-FISH members and partner organization like Women Anglers of Minnesota, Twin Cities Walleyes Unlimited and Lake Osakis Guides, MN-FISH delivered 1,000 rod/reel combos to Toys for Tots on December 3, and hopes to deliver another 3,000 in the coming weeks.

We need your help to meet this goal.

Go to MN-FISH.com and click on Toys for Tots logo to donate by credit card or PayPal, or mail a check to: MN-FISH, 125 1st Ave NW, PO Box 7, Osseo, MN 55369-9906.

MN-FISH Organizes Hatchery Tour Highlights Need for Reconstruction

MN-Fish Executive Director Mark Holsten, board member Garry Leaf and National Marine Manufacturer’s Association’s Jill Sims recently toured the Waterville fish hatchery with Senator Rich Draheim (center), whose district includes Waterville and much of southern Minnesota.

The Waterville hatchery supports vital fisheries across southern Minnesota, raising walleye, muskie, pike and other sport fish for stocking. The 60-plus-year-old facility was originally built as a fish research station, not a hatchery, and can no longer efficiently meet today’s needs. It should be razed and a new, modern facility built.

During the 2022 legislative session, bills supported by MN-FISH to fund needed hatchery (and boat access) improvements had bi-lateral support, but the session ended without a vote on bonding.

MN-FISH organized this tour to highlight the need for support from the legislature to fund needed improvements to the state hatchery system in 2023.


MN-FISH, DNR, Sponsor Minnow Meeting – Bait Shortages Affecting Anglers and Businesses

MN-FISH recently partnered with the Minnesota DNR to host a meeting at the Brainerd DNR Headquarters in the hopes to find solutions to end severe live bait shortages affecting state anglers and businesses that support them.

Sportfishing is big business in Minnesota, generating $4.2 billion in economic impact across the state. Minnesota is one of the largest retail and wholesale distributors of live bait in the country with sales reaching over $500 million annually.

The October 31 meeting was attended by 17 live bait dealers and trappers from across the northern third of Minnesota. Representatives from the DNR included: fisheries chief Brad Parsons, director of fish & wildlife Dave Olfelt, policy and planning consultant Kelly Wilder, and Sean Sisler. Executive Director Mark Holsten and Board Member Tom Neustrom attended on behalf of MN-FISH.

The group covered a number of topics during the three-hour meeting, including the effects bait shortage is having on angler participation and the overall economy of areas within the state.

Key Topics:

  1. Spottail shiner harvest regulations on waters infested with zebra mussels
  2. Raising and lowering water levels on ponds (ex. ponds in Douglas County)
  3. Effects of drain tile water on fish (pesticides are killing minnows (especially fat heads and chubs) in state waters)
  4. Giving up permits where there is shared raising of walleyes in numerous ponds
  5. Importation of golden shiners from outside Minnesota

This meeting was the first step in establishing dialog between DNR, bait dealers and trappers, and MN-FISH as the search for solutions to the shortage and regulatory issues that bait dealers and trappers have been dealing with. — Tom Neustrom