Some Manitoba fishermen are hoping the province will amend rules that ban fishing for six weeks out of the year.
Stu McKay, owner of fishing-guide outfitter Cats on the Red, is anxiously anticipating the start of fishing season both for his business and so he can fish himself.
The province shuts down fishing from March 31 when ice fishing season ends to the second Saturday in May.
The closure comes from a decades-old law that is meant to give fish a time to replenish their stocks. McKay wants to see that changed.
"Make it catch and release. Anglers don’t care, they just want to go fishing!" said McKay.
McKay isn’t alone in wanting to see the closure legislation amended.
The Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association said extending the season for specific fish would be a financial boon for the province.
"Especially in a lot of remote and rural parts of the province where there’s not a lot of other economic activity going on," said Paul Turenne, the executive director of the association.
"We of course want the government to consider that when they’re making these decisions."
McKay agrees. He said fishermen head out of the province during the annual fishing closure.
"We could go to Ontario. We can’t fish for walleyes, but we could go to Ontario and fish for Northern Pike," he said.
But not everyone is on board with the extended season.
Fisherman Don Drew said he doesn’t mind the six-week break.
"Give the fish a chance to recover, complete their spawn and basically get reestablished," said Drew, adding the closure creates "a better season for next year."
So far the province isn’t planning on making changes to the closure, but McKay said support for a new catch-and-release program is gaining support and fishermen will continue to pressure government for change.