DNR fisheries seeks input on walleye regulation proposals in Itasca County

The Grand Rapids area fisheries office of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled two public open-house meetings to gather input on walleye regulation proposals for lakes in Itasca County. Lakes being considered for new regulations include Bowstring, Sand (near Max) and Jessie. Current regulations are being reviewed for Swan, Trout (near Coleraine), Splithand, Moose, Island (near Northome), Round (near Squaw Lake) and Deer/Battle/Pickerel (near Effie).

The proposed regulation on each lake is a 17- to 26-inch protected slot with one walleye longer than 26 inches in possession, meaning all walleye between 17 and 26 inches long must be immediately released.

“This regulation has been in place on Swan, Trout, Splithand, Moose, Round, Island and Deer/Pickerel/Battle since 2005 and the data show improvement in the walleye population,” said Chris Kavanaugh, area fisheries supervisor. “Anglers have asked us to look at Sand, Bowstring and Jessie again, and since we are reviewing the other lakes, it makes it a good time to consider these lakes as well.”

The public comment period began in May and will end 10 days after the last public meeting.

“This is not a done deal,” Kavanaugh said. “The comment period and the meetings are extremely important to us, so that we can make the best decision on implementing the regulation on any of the lakes.”

The meetings are intended to provide an opportunity to ask the DNR questions before comments are submitted. “Questions and comments can be made at any time during the comment period. We want anglers to be informed and encourage them to ask us any questions they have,” Kavanaugh said.

The comments will be reviewed and a decision on implementation will be made in December. If implemented, the regulations would become effective at the beginning of the 2014 fishing season.

The first open-house meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Squaw Lake Community Center on Highway 46 in Squaw Lake.

The second open-house meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the training room at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) at 402 11th Street SE, Grand Rapids.

An additional open-house meeting will be held on Sept. 25 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, Minn.

More information is available by contacting the Grand Rapids Area Fisheries office at 218-327-4430 and on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/grandrapids/index.html.

Comments on the lakes in Itasca County may be made using a standard comment sheet on the website or they may be directed to Dave Weitzel, DNR area fisheries, 1201 E. Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 or david.weitzel@state.mn.us. Written comments will be accepted until Oct. 21.