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The Department of Natural Resources is expanding muskie fishing opportunities in Minnesota. Roosevelt Lake in northern Crow Wing County and the Sauk River chain of lakes in Stearns County southwest of St. Cloud will be stocked with muskellunge th...
The Department of Natural Resources is expanding muskie fishing opportunities in Minnesota.
Roosevelt Lake in northern Crow Wing County and the Sauk River chain of lakes in Stearns County southwest of St. Cloud will be stocked with muskellunge this fall in response to growing angler interest, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
"This decision is a positive step consistent with our long-range management plan for muskie and northern pike," said Dirk Peterson, DNR fisheries management chief. "Many people representing a wide variety of interests helped create that plan, and the desire to develop new muskie fisheries was clear."
Results of the DNR's extensive public comment process in 2010 showed that about 80 percent of the 25,000 comments received supported stocking muskellunge in additional lakes. The substance of all comments, regardless of support or opposition, were factored into the DNR's decision.
Muskie will not be stocked this fall in three other lakes the DNR was considering. Upper and Lower South Long lakes near Brainerd will not be considered further for muskie management. Stocking in Lake Tetonka west of Waterville has been put on hold indefinitely pending resolution of local issues.
"Although physically and biologically suitable for muskie management, the lakes initially proposed in the Brainerd area have public access issues that raise public safety concerns," said Tim Goeman, northeast regional fisheries supervisor. "Their combined 2,100 surface acres also would not meet muskellunge fishing demand in the Brainerd area, so we will continue to look for a larger, yet-to-be-identified lake for future consideration." No new lakes are currently under consideration, he said.
DNR will collect additional information on recreation use and user attitudes in the Lake Tetonka area and expand its public outreach efforts before re-considering stocking muskie in Tetonka.
Stocking muskie in Roosevelt Lake and the Sauk River chain is a step toward fulfilling a goal in the long-range management plan that calls for up to eight new waters to be stocked by 2020, focused on areas of the state without nearby muskie fishing opportunity.
The muskellunge is one of Minnesota's largest fish, growing to more than 50 pounds and more than 50 inches in length. Anglers have become increasingly interested in the so-called "fish of 10,000 casts" now that 50-plus inch fish can be caught in Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Vermilion and other waters that have been stocked since the 1980s.
"As muskie have grown in size and abundance, so has interest in catching them," Goeman said.
Muskie anglers are the fastest-growing segment of Minnesota's fishing population. About 14 percent of Minnesota's licensed anglers target muskie, and the quality experiences Minnesota offers attract muskie anglers from across the nation.