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Officials Emphasize Water Safety During Fishing Opener

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - The much-improved weather comes just in time for Minnesota's fishing opener.

About 500,000 anglers are expected to hit their favorite lake this weekend.

The opener is also a time to emphasize safety after a year that saw 18 boating deaths statewide, the most since 2005. With 16,000 new boats registered in Minnesota in the past year, the Department of Natural Resources wants to make sure people set themselves up to come home safely.

WATCH: Safety tips for fishing opener

"Falling into the water this time of year - early season boating - is going to be a lot different if you fall into the water in the middle of the summer. Water temperatures are still dangerously cold right now, and it's a lot slower on the water, we don't have as many recreational boats out this time of year so there's not going to be somebody right there to help you if you get into trouble," said DNR Recreational Safety Coordinator Lisa Dugan.

MORE: Learn About Hook, Line And Shelter

The DNR also says to find a life jacket that fits what you're doing on the water so it's comfortable. The best life jacket, they say, is the one you'll actually wear.

Officials also stress paying attention to the water, which includes putting down your phone.

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