The ice is off area lakes and fisher folks are buying their licenses and lures for Saturday's opening day.
Justin Skipton, skimming minnows out of a tank at Bluewater Outdoors, said license sales were picking up early in the week.
"But people are usually last-minute," he said.
Robert Saxton of Bemidji said he already bought his license, but had stopped in at Bluewater with his children, Tommy, 9, Louis, 7, and Charlotte, 5, to buy lures. The children get a new lure each year to build the inventory in their tackle boxes.
"We washed the boat," Charlotte said.
Louis said he took a nap in the boat.
Tommy said they mostly practice catch-and-release for northerns and bass.
"We like Plantagenet," said their father of their angling haunts.
Ron Bostic, owner of Taber's Bait and Taber's Historic Log Cabins, said this is the business' 50th year.
Earl Taber, who died in 2002 shortly after selling the business to Bostic in April 2002, started the bait business in 1935 and moved to the current location in 1959.
"I'm trying to keep up the tradition," Bostic said. "I was talking to Emily (Taber). She said Earl would be proud."
To compete with the chain sporting goods stores, Bostic said he must find a specialty niche.
"I try to find stuff the box stores don't have," he said. "I bet I hear once a day (from customers) 'I've looked all over for these.'"
Bostic, who grew up handling bait near McGregor, said he is pleased the ice came off Lake Bemidji for this year's opener, but even with icy conditions, he said opening day in 2008 was good business.
Bostic said he opened the bait shop's doors at 5 a.m. today and would remain open around the clock or "until closing, whenever that is."