Angling regulations will change on nearly three dozen waters this year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
the changes: Anglers will see more restrictive walleye regulations in
and around Saganaga Lake in Cook County. Lake Winnibigoshish will have a
relaxed, or narrower, protected slot limit for walleye. And northern
pike special regulations will be removed on Big Birch Lake in Todd
Changed and new special and experimental regulations will
be posted at public accesses on affected lakes and become effective
March 1, except for those involving Sand Lake in Itasca County and
connected waters, which will be effective in 2016.
Sea Gull, and Gull lakes (Cook County) and connected waters – Walleye
will have a 17-inch minimum length restriction and a bag limit of three
established to protect small walleye to make the most of limited
production of those fish from natural reproduction or stocking. Fish
managers have been concerned for several years about low numbers of
young walleye seen in these lakes, and the possibility that without some
protection, those low numbers would result in even lower numbers of
adult fish, with further reductions in spawning success. Effects of this
regulation will be studied for the next 10 years, and will be reviewed
with the public in 2024.
Sauk River chain of lakes (Stearns
County) – Anglers will have an expanded opportunity to harvest channel
catfish, which became established in the late 1970s and since have
become very abundant. A bag limit of 10, but with only one of the 10
longer than 24 inches, is to provide the opportunity for more harvest
yet still provide a healthy population of catfish.
(Hubbard County) – Bass will have a protected slot limit of 14-to
20-inches, with one longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession limit
of six. The lake has a healthy population of bass shorter than 15 inches
but fewer larger bass compared to other nearby lakes and the regulation
is designed to boost numbers of larger bass.
Sand Lake (Itasca
County) and connected waters (Birdseye, Portage and Little Sand lakes)
–Starting in May of 2016, walleye will have a 17- to 26-inch protected
slot limit with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession
limit of six. This experimental regulation is intended to increase
abundance of spawning-age walleye, stabilize reproduction, and end
boom-and-bust cycles of fishing success for walleye. The regulation will
be monitored for 10 years and its effect on walleye and fishing will be
reviewed with the public in 2025.
Winnibigoshish – Walleye will have an 18- to 23-inch protected slot,
with only one longer than 23 inches, relaxed from the previous 17- to
26-inch protected slot. This is to allow for more harvest opportunities
while still maintaining protection to spawning-age fish. In recent years
the slot limit on Winnibigoshish has consistently met objectives
established for the regulation.
Clitherall and Sewell lakes (Otter
Tail County) – On Clitherall Lake, smallmouth bass will have 14- to
20-inch protected slot limit with one longer than 20 inches allowed in a
possession of six. This regulation replaces the catch and release
regulation that has been in place for the last 10 years. The regulation
for largemouth and smallmouth bass on Sewell Lake has also been changed
to a 14- to 20-inch protected slot limit. This replaces the 12- to
20-inch protected slot limit. Both lakes have quality populations of
bass but managers believe these lakes can sustain quality fish while
allowing additional harvest for bass shorter than 14 inches.
Mantrap (Hubbard County) – Black crappie will no longer have a 10-inch
minimum length restriction but will continue to have a restricted bag
limit of five. The minimum length limit was determined to be ineffective
at increasing the size of crappie in Big Mantrap Lake.
Special or experimental regulations will be dropped on four waters and return to statewide or border waters regulations.
objectives for improving northern pike in Big Birch Lake in Todd
County; walleye and sunfish in Cottonwood Lake in Grant County; and
sunfish in Mississippi River navigation pools 5, 5a, and 8 on
Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters were not achieved, so special or
experimental restrictions will be lifted.
For similar reasons, on Jewett and Pickerel lakes in Otter Tail County, bass regulations will return to statewide limits.
Regulations turning permanent
lakes that have had experimental or temporary emergency regulations
will become permanent special regulations. Reduced bag limits of five
sunfish on Pimushe Lake in Beltrami County and 10 sunfish on Star Lake
in Otter Tail County were shown to have effectively maintained quality
populations of sunfish.
The temporary catch-and-release
regulation for a genetically unique population of lake trout in Mukooda
Lake in St. Louis County was made a special regulation to conserve these
fish for further study. On nearby Little Trout Lake, which also has a
unique genetic population, there will be a new catch-and-release
regulation for lake trout. Both lakes are accessible in Voyageurs
National Park and anglers may travel through these lakes with lake trout
legally harvested on other waters.
In most years, the DNR
reviews the effectiveness of some existing regulations and also
considers proposals for new regulations. After evaluating information
collected from lake and angler surveys, the department takes public
input before making decisions based on management goals. For more
information, see www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.