Fishing is an Economic Engine in Rural Minnesota

Brad Finstad

We’re opening our windows again, the grass is turning green and the ice is finally off most of our state’s 10,000 lakes. This can only mean one thing to many of us: It’s time to get back out in our boats fishing again!

According to my family and thousands more in rural Minnesota, last weekend’s fishing opener was the official beginning of spring.

While fishing is a great way to put delicious food on our tables, enjoy our state’s beautiful waterways and spend quality time with family and friends, it’s also a major engine of our economy here in rural Minnesota. Consider these facts:

  • Minnesota ranks first nationally in the sale of fishing licenses per capita.
  • There are 1.1 million resident anglers in Minnesota (ranking 5th out of the nation’s 50 states) and 319,000 non-resident anglers (ranking 4th in the nation).
  • According to a 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey, $2.7 billion is spent annually on fishing in Minnesota. Of this, $1.86 billion is spent on fishing equipment and supplies and $860 million is spent on fishing trip-related expenses.
  • In the 80 counties outside of the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, tourism in general (of which fishing plays a major role) generates $3.7 billion annually, $222 million in state sales tax revenue and over 91,000 jobs.

Enjoy your time fishing our lakes this spring and summer, and thank you for keeping our rural Minnesota economy moving.

(Brad Finstad is executive director of the Center for Rural Policy and Development. He can be reached at