A number of new fishing regulations across the state of Minnesota will become effective March 1, 2012.
The changes, designed to maintain or improve fishing quality, are modifications to existing experimental and special regulations or the application of a regulation on a new body of water.
Regulation changes occur annually as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reviews the effectiveness of existing regulations, adjusts as necessary, and considers new regulation proposals from the public. Regulations changes are based on lake survey data, angler and citizen input, and fish management goals.
All changes will be posted at the public accesses of all affected waters, and will also be included in the upcoming 2012 fishing regulation booklet.
The minimum length of the walleye slot limit, currently at 17 inches, will move up one inch, resulting in an 18- to 26-inch protected slot limit. The current bag limit of four walleye with only one longer than 26 inches will remain unchanged. DNR review of the biological impact of modifying the regulation, which was first implemented in 2006, showed that moving the bottom of the slot up one inch is expected to allow for the additional harvest strongly supported by the public while still meeting management goals to improve harvest in the western basin.
A permanent 20- to 28-inch protected slot limit on walleye will go into effect on Big Sand Lake. Anglers still may only keep one walleye longer than 28 inches. While experimental, the regulation improved abundance and size of walleye and public input largely favored making the regulation permanent.
Mandatory catch-and-release of all largemouth bass in Hovde Lake will become permanent. The regulation, which the public supported, resulted in a marked improvement in sizes of bass.
A 17- to 28-inch protected slot limit on walleye will be extended for one year on the Namakan Reservoir, which includes Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, Crane and Little Vermilion lakes. The extension of the experimental regulation allows for additional evaluation of the regulation. Results of the evaluation will be reviewed with the public again next fall.
The existing 12- to 20-inch protected slot limit on largemouth bass in Long Lake will be modified to a 14- to 20-inch protected slot and extended to 2020 to evaluate the change. Anglers still may only keep one largemouth bass longer than 20 inches. The objective of the modified regulation is to allow for additional harvest opportunities while maintaining quality angling for larger bass. Public comments favored both additional opportunity for harvest while also protecting quality sized bass with the modified regulation.
Fishing for brook trout in a 3.5-mile reach of Lawndale Creek within Atherton Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will be restricted to catch-and-release with artificial lures. Situated in a prairie region dominated by agriculture, much of Lawndale Creek had been channelized and straightened in the 1960s, devaluing its habitat and potential for trout management. A recently completed restoration of the creek back to its original channel boosted the potential for brook trout to thrive within the WMA, providing a unique opportunity to enhance the trout population with a catch-and-release regulation.
Maintaining opportunities for quality panfish angling in the Grand Rapids area is the goal for reduced bag limits on three Itasca County lakes. New regulations limit anglers on Splithand Lake to five black crappie and five sunfish; a limit of five sunfish on Little Splithand; and a limit of five sunfish on Dixon Lake.
Catch-and-release regulations will remain in effect for all species in Lester Lake, a small 55-acre lake located within the Lester Lake Aquatic Management/Scientific and Natural Area. The property was donated to the state with the intent to maintain its natural characteristics and the relatively pristine fish community. After taking public comment, a catch-and-release regulation enacted under a short-term emergency rule shortly after the property was acquired has been made permanent.
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