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Northern Minnesota lakes welcome new anglers during border closure

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COOK, MN-- With the spring fishing season underway and the border still closed, anglers who usually head to Canada have had to make other plans this year.

Northland lakes are picking up the business caused by the closure.

On a calm Thursday afternoon, fish were biting on Lake Vermilion.

It was a pleasant introduction to Northern Minnesota fishing for a group of Nebraska anglers.

The men usually spend their annual fishing trip in Canada, but lakes like Vermilion were the next best option with the border still closed.

"We weren't going to miss two years in a row, so we definitely wanted to get out somewhere," said Robert Wilson from Omaha.

It's a situation many anglers are finding themselves in over the past year, bringing lake lovers from across the U.S. to Minnesota.

Dan Debano with the Lake Vermilion Tourism Resort Association said those changes in plans have been lucrative for Northern resorts that had a difficult 2020 season.

Debano said some resorts are already seeing 70% of the business they saw in 2020, and summer has just begun.

"It doesn't take much to close a little town. So, we are happy we have it, and we want to keep it going," said Debano. "The resort owners are very, very happy because there were some tough times."

Owners like Eric Hanson of Pehrson Lodge and Resort usually cater to families during the summer months but are adapting to the new influx in business.

"We're definitely noticing it's affecting our business, and it's positive, but it's kind of shifting out clientele a little bit," said Hanson.

They all hope the lakes leave a lasting impression to keep this new clientele coming back for years to come.

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Natalie Grant

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