Mukooda Lake, located in Voyageurs National Park in northern St. Louis County, will be closed to lake trout harvest effective Jan. 15.
While fishing on or in Mukooda Lake, angling for lake trout is limited to catch-and-release only. Any lake trout caught must be immediately returned to the lake. It is unlawful for anyone to have in possession, regardless of where taken, any lake trout while stopping on or fishing in these waters. A person who is in transit and passing through Mukooda Lake, taking the most direct route back to the person’s lodging or docking, and not fishing, may possess lake trout if the species were legally taken from other waters.
Mukooda Lake contains a self-sustaining population of lake trout that have a unique genetic make-up. This unique strain has persisted for decades in spite of DNR stocking efforts and competition from cool-water species such as northern pike, walleye, and bass.
“The decision to close Mukooda Lake to trout harvest is based on creel survey estimates and observations of fishing pressure,” said Kevin Peterson, International Falls area fisheries supervisor. “The lake’s habitat supports slow natural reproduction and efforts to boost the lake trout population through stocking have not been successful. Halting the lake trout harvest will protect the remaining stock and allow us to see how the fishery responds.”
The rule (6262.0575 Subp. 14) will be published in the state register prior to the start of the lake trout angling season opener.
The DNR continues to work with resource managers at Voyageurs National Park to monitor the fish populations and goals for this and several other lakes located within the park.
“We support the DNR’s decision and are ready to assist,” said Voyageurs National Park Superintendent Mike Ward. “We understand anglers enjoy the trout in Mukooda Lake and we appreciate their patience while we take steps to ensure this stock thrives in the future.”
The lake management plan for Mukooda Lake will be updated in 2014, which will provide additional opportunities for information sharing and stakeholder input. This closure is a temporary measure which will be in effect for 18 months. DNR fisheries will hold public meetings in 2014 to consider longer-term measures to protect Mukooda lake trout.