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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Are there any kids' fishing derbies in NW Minnesota?

Brad Dokken portrait

Q. With Minnesota's free ice fishing weekend set for Jan. 18-20, are there any clinics or kids' fishing derbies in the area?

A. I ran your question by Mike "Cold Front" Kurre, coordinator of mentoring programs for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in St. Paul. He said there are no derbies or clinics scheduled up here in northwest Minnesota during the free ice fishing weekend, although several events are scheduled by independent groups in the Twin Cities metro area.

That being said, Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is still a good excuse to introduce a young person to the fun of wintertime fishing. As part of the weekend, any Minnesota resident age 16 or older can fish without an angling license or spear from a dark house without a spearing license if accompanied by a youth age 16 or younger.

It won't be during the free ice fishing weekend, but a Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Clinic is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 16 at Lake Bronson State Park near Lake Bronson, Minn., which is about a 90-minute drive from Grand Forks. Participants should meet at the park's Victor Johnson Visitor Center, and pre-registration is required by calling the park at (218) 754-2200 by Feb. 11.

You don't hear a lot about Lake Bronson -- and I suspect the anglers who know about the lake's good fishing prefer it that way -- but the 335-acre reservoir formed by a dam on the South Branch of the Two Rivers has healthy populations of walleyes, perch and northern pike, so the kids who take part in next month's clinic definitely will have a chance to put some fish on the ice.

Lake Bronson also is among the numerous Minnesota state parks where Minnesota residents can fish without a license, which means the free fishing opportunities aren't limited to Jan. 18-20. More information about Minnesota state parks that offer free fishing for resident anglers is available at

Taking kids ice fishing presents its own set of challenges -- especially if it's cold outside -- and the DNR has compiled a website filled with tips and resources for keeping the experience as enjoyable as possible. For more information, check out the site at

And while northwest Minnesota is light on kids' ice fishing events this winter, Kurre said he also might be able to help provide additional information. You can reach him at (651) 259-5193 or by email at

If you have a question for Talkin' with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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