Due to the late ice cover and early walleye opener, concentrations of walleye remain near the egg-collection operation at Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake. The Department of Natural Resources announces it will close the area extending from Williams Narrows upstream through the First River Flowage up to Egg Lake. The closure will be in place beginning on May 10, 2014 through May 16, 2014. No fishing will be allowed during this time period in the specified area. Signs will be posted at the narrows and other access points within the closed area.
“The closure is necessary to protect adult walleye that have concentrated around the spawning site,” said Chris Kavanaugh, Area Fisheries Manager at Grand Rapids. “It’s always a difficult decision to close the area and restrict recreational opportunities, but our first responsibility is to the long-term health of the fishery. We considered the protection offered with the protected slot limit but felt the risk of overharvest was too high.”
There was still significant ice cover on Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake on April 30 this year and egg collection activities had not started. Typically, the lake needs to be ice free for at least three days before activities begin. The shallow water upstream of the trap site can have very low dissolved oxygen at the end of the winter. Waiting a few days after ice out allows the lake to mix and attain a higher dissolved oxygen level.
“This area was also closed in 2013,” said Kavanaugh. Prior to that the area was closed in 2008, 1996 and 1997. There are likely to be concentrations of spawning fish in other areas and anglers are encouraged to practice catch and release.
The walleye run at Little Cut Foot Sioux has been a major part of the statewide walleye program since the 1920′s. Each year, adult walleye are trapped, spawned, the eggs fertilized and then transported to state hatcheries for incubating, hatching and then distributed to lakes and ponds according to individual lake management plans. A portion of the fry produced is always returned to Big and Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake.
Although this area is closed to fishing through the first week of the season there are no restrictions on boat travel through the area. If the net and dock is still in place on May 10 there will be provisions made to allow boat travel along the north side of the channel. All of the campgrounds, resorts and public accesses in the area are open. Shore anglers may want to consider alternative opportunities at the Winnie Dam.
For more information, please contact the Area Fisheries Office at (218) 327-4430 or by e-mail at Grandrapids.Fisheries@dnr.state.mn.us.