Msg 1 Posted: 10:39 AM 05/16/06 (CST)
By Tim Spielman Associate Editor
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 12:04 PM EDT
St. Paul - For fishermen in Minnesota, special and experimental regulations are as much a part of life as worms and crankbaits. The number of lakes and rivers with special regulations continues to climb, as fisheries managers continue to experiment with ways to keep the state's reputation for fine fishing intact.
Most special regulations are for specific lakes or, in some cases, 'management systems' that include a number of connected lakes and waterways. But this year, anglers statewide must abide by a new regulation regarding walleye fishing. Per a directive from the Legislature in 2005, anglers are allowed to keep only one walleye longer than 20 inches each day. Last year - and the previous five or so years - only one above 24 inches could be kept.
According to Al Stevens, DNR lake and stream survey program, the new 'one over' rule was 'a step in the right direction.' Some DNR officials, however, wish the 'one over' applied to a possession, rather than a daily walleye limit.
'There's a big difference,' Stevens said.
Through 1993, there was no 'one-over' rule for walleye anglers. In 1994, the state went to one over 20 inches. In 1995, that changed to one over 24. All the changes were made by statute by the Legislature, Stevens said.
The new rule could have an effect on some lakes, but Stevens doubts anglers and biologists will notice much, from a statewide perspective.
'Statewide, the number of walleyes over 20 inches is small versus those 13 to 19 inches,' he said. 'It also fosters a conservation ethic.'
But for now, anglers need be concerned only with having no more than one walleye over 20 inches in their daily limit.
However, since there are now 57 individual basins (42 management systems) with special regulations, it's a good idea for fishermen to check the fishing regulations pamphlet for regulation variations.
Some of Minnesota's larger waters have rules beyond the statewide regulations.
When walleye anglers hit Mille Lacs for this year's fishing opener, they'll be greeted by a four-fish bag limit and a 20- to 28-inch slot (one over 28 inches in possession). The reg runs until July 15, when the slot could change to 22 to 28 inches.
Anglers will get their first chance since 1998 to catch Upper Red Lake walleyes. The walleye limit is two, the protected slot is 17 to 26 inches, and one fish may exceed 26 inches.
Leech Lake will continue with an 18- to 26 inch protected slot, with just one walleye over 26 inches allowed in a four-fish possession limit.
Lake of the Woods has a combined possession limit of six walleyes and/or sauger, with a protected 19.5- to 28-inch slot; one over 28 inches is allowed in possession.
The Rainy Lake walleye/sauger limit is eight fish, with a protected 17- to 28-inch slot (one over 28 inches allowed in possession).
Fish managers mostly stick to three standard special regulations, Steven said, including a protected 17- to 26 inch slot, a three-fish bag limit, or a 17-inch minimum.
The 17- to 26-inch slot (with one walleye over 26 inches allowed in possession) is 'definitely the most popular,' Stevens said.
Why special regs? There are two main reasons, Stevens said.
'We either want to maintain the quality of the fishing that we have, or we want to improve the fishery, to go back to previous conditions,' Stevens said.
Several lakes have been added to the special walleye regulations list the past few years, Stevens said, but this year, state anglers will see few postings at state lake accesses. Stevens said special regulations include time-consuming management practices, such as creel surveys, and area fisheries offices' loads are about full, in terms of special regs lakes.
Stevens said next year, experimental regs (those outside statewide regs that have sunset dates; special regulations do not) for walleyes will be up for review on several state waters, including Kabetogama Lake, where all walleyes less than 13 inches or greater than 17 inches must be released (one over 23 inches is allowed in possession).
Other notable lakes with special or experimental regulations, include:
Waconia, Carver County, 16-inch minimum;
Vermillion, St. Louis County, 17- to 26-inch slot (one over 26 inches in possession), and a four-fish bag;
Osakis, Douglas/Todd counties, 15-inch minimum;
Norway, Otter Tail County, three-fish bag;
Knife, Kanabec County, 18- to 24-inch slot;
Green, Chisago County, 17-inch minimum;
Big Sand, Hubbard, 20- to 28-inch protected slot (one over 28 inches in possession).
IF IT'S WET...IT'S CATCH'N FISH