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Opening day of a great Wisconsin tradition Saturday

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Saturday will be the kickoff of one of Wisconsin's great traditions - the inland fishing season.

The season will kickoff despite a forecast that is calling for rain and cooler than normal temperatures.

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"No matter where you live in Wisconsin, there's great fishing to be had," said Matt Frank, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary.

According to the DNR, Wisconsin has 1.4 million anglers and is the No. 2 fishing destination in the country.

The sport brings in $2.75 billion in economic benefits to the state and provides $196 million in state tax revenues. It also creates 30,164 jobs in the state.

Frank also encourages Wisconsin's anglers to introduce someone new to the sport.

"Everyone can enjoy this traditional pastime. And by introducing a new angler to fishing, you're helping them create memories that last a lifetime," he said.

DNR officials also want to remind anglers that new rules to prevent the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia are in effect statewide.

The rules aim to prevent the movement of infected bait minnows -- the main way VHS is spread to new waters -- and the movement of contaminated water.

More information about VHS prevention and the new rules are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.wi.us

DNR officials say that the hook-and-line game fish season opens Saturday on inland waters for walleye, sauger and northern pike statewide.

The largemouth and smallmouth bass southern zone (which includes Polk County and south) opens May 3, while the northern bass zone opens for catch and release only May 3 through June 20.

In their fishing forecast for the western region of the state -- which includes St. Croix, Pierce and Dunn counties -- DNR officials say that with warmer weather, fishing should start picking up.

Officials say that northern pike will be feeding heavily by the fishing opener and that walleye anglers should also enjoy success.

They say panfish anglers should look for shallow bays out of the wind, according to wildlife officials. There they'll find bluegill, crappie and perch waiting for a worm or minnow.

Trout anglers could face tough conditions with extremely clear water making trout spooky, say officials.

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 16-years-old or older need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state.

However, residents born before Jan. 1, 1927 do not need a license, nor do people who exhibit proof they are on active duty in the U.S. military and are a resident on furlough or leave.

A resident general fishing license costs $20. However, for 16-and 17-year-olds and seniors over 65 the cost is just $7.

Licenses can be purchased at DNR service centers or at licensed vendors across the state. They are also available online on the DNR Web site.

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