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Fishing opener and water safety

FAIRMONT — The spring and summer months are upon us, and with that comes a multitude of outdoor activities to enjoy. One of those favorite pastimes is fishing, and the fishing opener for walleye, bass, northern pike, and lake trout is next Saturday, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Martin County Sheriff Jeff Markquart offers some advice on how to safely and respectfully enjoy the water, noting lower lake levels.

“All the buoys have been placed on the lakes now,” he said. “With the lake levels as low as they are, make sure to be careful around the buoys because there’s not as much water as there has been in the past.

“These buoys may move a little bit depending on the water depth. So be careful of your surroundings and monitor what’s going on.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are another concern for boaters, who will want to double-check and make sure they’re not transporting AIS from one lake to another.

“Make sure your boats are clean and dry when you’re moving them around from lake to lake,” he said. Things like zebra mussels and eurasian watermilfoil or starry stonewort could potentially plug water intakes for the water plant, causing problems with Fairmont’s drinking water.

Another AIS is Asian carp, which can cause serious damage to native fish populations simply by out-competing other fish for food and space. The fish lay thousands of eggs at a time and can spread into a new habitat quickly and with ease.

Boats and boat trailers are the primary methods by which such species spread, and are where prevention plays such a crucial role.

The DNR reminds boaters and anglers to follow Minnesota laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species:

— Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft.

— Drain all water by removing drain plugs, and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.

— Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

— Spray watercraft with high-pressure water and rinse with hot water (140 degrees).

— Dry for at least five days.

Touching on safety, Markquart gave a reminder to have life jackets on board, and on children at all times. He also recommended making sure boats are ready before even getting to the lake.

“Get your boats running before you get them to the lake,” he said. Markquart recommended flushing the outboard motor using flush muffs, with connect to a garden hose and fit over the engine’s water intakes.

“That way you don’t take your water pump out, and you can start it up in your yard, and it’s just to make sure that your batteries are charged up before you go to the lake.”

As far as other tips, Markquart reminds boaters to remember they’re not the only ones who want to get on the water.

“Be mindful of other people at the boat landings if there’s a line,” he said. Be mindful of your surroundings and just respect the other people out on the lakes.”

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