Public invited to comment on experimental fishing regulations
Reviews of existing or newly proposed regulations on 22 lakes for walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and muskellunge will be the subject of seven public meetings conducted across the state in the coming weeks by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The meetings will include reviews of walleye regulations on Leech Lake; largemouth bass regulations on Cass County's Stony and Thirteen lakes; a catch-and-release muskellunge regulation on Clearwater County's Elk Lake; walleye regulations on the Fish Lake Reservoir near Duluth; a 17- to 26-inch protected slot for walleye on 12 Itasca County lakes; and panfish regulations on five Rochester-area waters.
The goal of experimental and special regulations on individual waters is to expand opportunities for anglers to experience quality fishing that can be sustained in light of increasing angling pressure and improved angler efficiency. During the past 26 years, fisheries managers have monitored a variety of regulations across Minnesota.
"Much has been learned from our efforts to improve fish populations with length and bag limits," said Al Stevens, DNR fisheries program consultant. "If experimental regulations are successful, then regulations can be replicated on similar waters where fisheries managers and anglers agree they would help improve or maintain quality fishing."
Experimental regulations are in effect for a specific period of time, typically 10 years. Before the regulation ends, fish managers must evaluate the regulation and then gather input from public meetings to help determine whether to extend, modify or drop the existing experimental regulations.
"Fisheries managers welcome the opportunity to hear opinions from anglers," Stevens said. "Public participation is critical in determining whether proposed and existing regulations are meeting angler expectations."
Waters being evaluated this year were posted at public access points in the spring. Public notices for each meeting will be published in local newspapers. For more information about a specific meeting, check online at www.mndnr.gov/fishing/meetings or contact the local DNR Fisheries office using the online listing at www.mndnr.gov/areas/fisheries.
Written or verbal comments also will be accepted at local fisheries offices up to 10 days following a local meeting. Telephone numbers and addresses of local fisheries offices can be found online at online at www.mndnr.gov/areas/fisheries or on page 94 of the 2013 Fishing Regulations handbook.
For those unable to attend a local meeting, there will be an open house at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No formal presentations will be made but fisheries staff will be available to take comments on any proposal. Comments will be accepted through Monday, Oct. 7, and also may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 651-259-5239.
Open houses, which can be viewed on the DNR website by following the angler alert link at www.mndnr.gov/fishing, are scheduled for:
Cass County: Largemouth bass regulations on Stony and Thirteen lakes will be reviewed from 6-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Walker Area Community Center, 105 Tower Ave. E.
Clearwater County: The catch-and-release regulation for muskellunge on Elk Lake will be reviewed from 6- 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, at Douglas Lodge in Itasca State Park.
Itasca County: Implementing a 17- to 26-inch protected slot limit for walleye on Bowstring, Sand and Jessie lakes and reviewing that protected slot on Swan, Trout (near Coleraine), Splithand, Moose, Island (near Northome), Round (near Squaw Lake), and Deer/Battle/Pickerel (near Effie) will be discussed at two meetings. The first will be from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Squaw Lake Community Center on Minnesota Highway 46 in Squaw Lake. The second will be from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10, in the training room at Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, 402 11th St. SE, Grand Rapids.
Leech Lake: Relaxing the existing 18- to 26-inch protected slot limit for walleye to a
20- to 26-inch protected slot will be discussed from 6- 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Walker Area Community Center, 105 Tower Ave. E.
Olmsted County: Restricting the daily and possession limit for sunfish, black crappie, white crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on Bear Creek Reservoir, Foster-Arend Pond, Kalmar Reservoir, Quarry Hill Pond, and Willow Reservoir will be discussed from 1-3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Rochester DNR office, 3555 9th St. NW, Suite 350.
St. Louis County: The 13- to 17-inch protected slot for walleye on the Fish Lake Reservoir will be reviewed from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14. Contact the Duluth area fisheries office at 218-525-0853 or check on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/fishing and follow the angler alert link for meeting location.