Two fishing rods per fisherman, or just one?
It’s a perennial question in Minnesota, and one that could spark heated disagreement within the otherwise friendly confines of a boat.
And it’s back, even with a partisan flavor.
On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled state Senate voted to allow fishermen to use two lines while fishing, while the Democratic-controlled House seems unlikely to agree.
Today you can use two lines when ice fishing, but only one when fishing in open water within the state. Two lines are permitted on border waters, such as the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, and in all states bordering Minnesota – Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.
But Minnesota has stubbornly remained a unipolar state for years. Which raises the first question: why?
WHY A PLE IN MN?
There are two main arguments behind allowing only one rod per fisherman in Minnesota.
- Fish can be accidentally injured or killed with two lines. The idea is that people cannot deal with both poles at once, and with two poles with live bait, the chances will increase that a fish will swallow the bait and hooks.
- People will catch too many fish. For years, the Department of Natural Resources has warned that if more rods were allowed, more fish would be caught and killed, and the only way to protect the fish would be to lower the limits.
WHY TWO PLES?
There are two main arguments by those who push for two lines per angler to be allowed.
- Let us fish. This is essentially a libertarian argument that says Minnesota’s one-line rule is an unnecessary restriction. “A lot of other states are doing it,” said State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, who chairs the Senate Environment Committee.
- It’s more efficient, fun and traditional. Here are a few examples: Walleye fishermen who double-fish it, placing a rod in each hand over a bar, are more likely to take action and fill the cooler. Musk anglers can cast large lures to structures for active fish, while sliding a suction cup under a float for less active fish. Bank fishermen can cast two lines into a river, place each rod on a forked stick, and enjoy a drink while waiting for a fish – whatever it is – to pick up its bait at the bottom.
WHAT IS THE PROPOSAL?
The proposal this year is not to universally allow two lines everywhere for all fishermen.
It would be optional. A fisherman, resident or non-resident, could pay an additional $ 5 to purchase the privilege.
“It’s a law enforcement nightmare,” said Bob Meier, director of political and government relations for MNR. Today, said Meier, an angler with two lines in the water – who can easily be spotted from a distance – is pretty much an automatic violation. But if the change were passed, he said, conservation officers might feel pressured to check anglers they wouldn’t otherwise check.
The proposal would not allow more than one line to be used on the dozens of lakes with special regulations, which would include major destinations like Thousand Lakes and Lake of the Woods.
IS IT REALLY PARTISAN?
To be clear, most lawmakers don’t have strong opinions on what is often referred to as “the bobber bill.”
Nonetheless, over the years he has tended to break away from Republicans more likely to support and Democrats more likely to oppose it. This year it is contained in a much larger bill that includes environmental policy and credits, as well as game and fisheries laws.
The Republican-controlled Senate included the two-line measure in its version. It seems unlikely that the Democratic House will include it in their version. Whether that will make it a final version that reaches Gov. Tim Walz’s office remains to be seen.