BIRCHDALE — Anglers set out on Rainy River Friday afternoon in search of trophy walleye and sturgeon, during the earliest open water walleye season in the state.

Anglers on the river may catch-and-release walleye from March 1 until April 14. The state walleye opener for all waters is May 15.

Lake sturgeon catch and release season on the river closes April 23, with the harvest season opening the following day, and closing May 7.

Last year at this time, area boat landings were closed in an attempt to keep the thousands of anglers drawn each year from other parts of the state and Midwest from congregating and spreading COVID-19, which was just ramping up then.