Last year around this time we were quite excited about our new technological gizmo, the amazing new DNR 21st century touchscreen fishing license machine. (See the story here.) The new technology really was an improvement. After we installed it, we never once handed a customer a fan-folded, wrinkled blue license, nor did any licenses come out of the machine in shreds. The downside of using this machine is that the screen is large enough that a guest can watch how many times we repeatedly make a stupid mistake inputting data on the touchscreen keyboard — in my case, it is not unusual for me to make precisely the same error 3 or 4 times. It was better that you didn’t know.
Alas, time is up on our brief entrance into modern times. They are taking away the new machines. The replacement plan is for us to buy your license for you online, using our computers, our paper, and our printer. No more slippery blue paper licenses, apparently. The good news is: You can do this yourself online, and you won’t have to stand for 15 minutes at our counter, cringing as we make mistakes typing in your weight and gender. (Buy your license here.) The online option has been available for quite awhile. Now that you aren’t even getting a fancy piece of blue paper as a reward for time spent redundantly repeating personal information to us, there may be even less of a reason to put yourself through that.
If you are coming to Bearskin in the next 2 weeks, we STRONGLY encourage you to go online now–yes, right now–and buy your license. The State of Minnesota is currently doing a dysfunctional act. State government may shut down on July 1st. We did this a few years ago, so we know how it affects travel: rest stops will be closed, so every gas station bathroom along your route will be knee-deep in overflowing paper towels. (Buy some chips from those people after you visit their restrooms — it will help fund the septic systems they all need to get pumped after the rest stops reopen.) State parks will be closed, so you will have to entertain the kids en route by visiting minimalls.
And above all, don’t expect to be able to buy a fishing license anywhere. The DNR says enforcement crews will still be out on the lakes (you know, “essential services”) but license sales will halt. If we’re lucky, Minnesota will get its act together and none of this will happen on July 1. If you have already bought your license online, you won’t need to worry one way or the other.