DNR announces new special angling regulations

Following public review that wrapped up this past fall, fishing regulations will change on 17 lakes and one stream starting in March, while existing regulations on five lakes will become permanent, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

The changes involve three types of regulations that are specific to individual waters: new regulations that have not yet been in effect; modified regulations that have been in effect but will be changed; and regulations turning permanent that were reviewed and will now be in effect indefinitely.

“We listen to the public and consider biological information from our fish surveys when making decisions about changes to fishing regulations,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the DNR. “Each year we let the public know what decisions are made so they know the result of the public process and what regulations will change.”

NEW REGULATIONS
Birdseye Lake (Itasca County): Walleye 17 to 26 inches must be released with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession limit of six; intended to increase abundance of spawning-age walleye, stabilize reproduction and end boom-and-bust cycles of walleye fishing success. This regulation is for Sand Lake and connected waters (Birdseye, Portage and Little Sand lakes).

Green Prairie Fish Lake (Morrison County): 10-fish bag limit on sunfish; regulation reviewed after 10 years to evaluate how well they provided quality sunfish for anglers.

Little Sand Lake (Itasca County): Walleye 17 to 26 inches must be released with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession limit of six; intended to increase abundance of spawning-age walleye, stabilize reproduction and end boom-and-bust cycles of walleye fishing success. This regulation is for Sand Lake and connected waters (Birdseye, Portage and Little Sand lakes).

Long (Higgins) Lake (Morrison County): 10-fish bag limit on sunfish; regulation reviewed after 10 years to evaluate how well they provided quality sunfish for anglers.

Maple Lake (Todd County): 10-fish bag limit on sunfish; regulation reviewed after 10 years to evaluate how well they provided quality sunfish for anglers.

Moose Lake (Todd County): 10-fish bag limit on sunfish; regulation reviewed after 10 years to evaluate how well they provided quality sunfish for anglers.

Platte Lake (Crow Wing County): 10-fish bag limit on sunfish; regulation reviewed after 10 years to evaluate how well they provided quality sunfish for anglers.

Portage Lake (Itasca County): Walleye 17 to 26 inches must be released with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession limit of six; intended to increase abundance of spawning-age walleye, stabilize reproduction and end boom-and-bust cycles of walleye fishing success. This regulation is for Sand Lake and connected waters (Birdseye, Portage and Little Sand lakes).

Sand Lake (Itasca County): Walleye 17 to 26 inches must be released with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession limit of six; intended to increase abundance of spawning-age walleye, stabilize reproduction and end boom-and-bust cycles of walleye fishing success. This regulation also applies to connected waters (Birdseye, Portage and Little Sand lakes).

Sullivan Lake (Crow Wing County): 10-fish bag limit on sunfish; regulation reviewed after 10 years to evaluate how well they provided quality sunfish for anglers.

MODIFIED REGULATIONS
Blackwater Lake (Cass County): Bass 14 to 20 inches must be released, one over 20 inches allowed in possession; currently there is a 12-inch maximum size limit on bass. The existing regulations worked to protect large bass; however, relaxing the regulations will allow more harvest opportunity while still protecting larger bass desired for quality angling.

Kabekona Lake (Hubbard County): Walleye 20 to 26 inches must be released, one longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession with a limit of four; regulation replaces the 18- to 26-inch protected slot limit that has been in place for the last 10 years. The walleye population in Kabekona has improved to the point that additional harvest opportunity can be provided by changing the regulation, which now will match the walleye regulation on Leech Lake, which is connected by  a navigable channel.

Mule Lake (Cass County): Bass 14 to 20 inches must be released, one over 20 inches allowed in possession; currently there is a 12-inch maximum size limit on bass. The existing regulations worked to protect large bass; however, relaxing the regulations will allow more harvest opportunity while still protecting larger bass desired for quality angling.

North Turtle Lake (Otter Tail County): Bass 14 to 20 inches must be released, with one fish longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession limit of six; regulation relaxed from the current 12- to 20-inch protected slot limit.

Pierz (Fish) Lake (Morrison County): Bass 14 to 20 inches must be released, with one fish longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession limit of six; regulation relaxed from the current 12- to 20-inch protected slot limit.

Rainy Lake (Koochiching and St. Louis counties): Walleye 18 to 26 inches must be released, one longer than 26 inches allowed in possession; regulation is relaxed from the previous 17- to 28-inch protected slot; bag limit remains four walleye. Change allows for more harvest opportunities while still protecting spawning-age fish. In recent years the slot limit on Rainy has consistently met objectives established for the regulation.

Vermillion River (Dakota County): Trout regulations will change in 2016 allowing for greater opportunity to harvest rainbow trout while further protecting a natural-reproducing population of trophy sized brown trout. Except for a 2-mile reach within the city of Farmington, the entire 19.5-mile-long special regulation zone has been managed with catch-and-release regulations for both species since 2006. However, starting next spring anglers will be able to harvest rainbow trout along the entire special regulation area. Brown trout, however, will gain additional protection as the entire special regulation zone will become catch-and-release only. Additionally, anglers will have a chance to fish for both brown and rainbow trout later into the fall with a catch and release season that extends angling through Oct. 15.

REGULATIONS TURNING PERMANENT
Battle Lake (Itasca County): Experimental regulations on sunfish will become permanent special regulations. Reduced bag limits of 10 sunfish were shown to have effectively maintained quality populations of sunfish. Also applies to nearby Deer and Pickerel lakes.

Crooked Lake (Stearns County): Bass regulations have shown to improve the sizes of bass and will become permanent.

Deer Lake (Itasca County): Experimental regulations on sunfish will become permanent special regulations. Reduced bag limits of 10 sunfish were shown to have effectively maintained quality populations of sunfish. Also applies to nearby Battle and Pickerel lakes.

Long Lake (Stearns County): Bass regulations have shown to improve the sizes of bass and will become permanent.

Pickerel Lake (Itasca County): Experimental regulations on sunfish will become permanent special regulations. Reduced bag limits of 10 sunfish were shown to have effectively maintained quality populations of sunfish. Also applies to nearby Battle and Deer lakes.

DROPPED REGULATIONS
Horseshoe Lake (Cass County): Special regulations on walleye, northern pike, bass and crappie will be dropped and return to the statewide regulation. Regulation objectives for improving populations for these species were not achieved, so special restrictions will be lifted. However, the existing five-fish bag limit restriction on sunfish is working to maintain quality sizes of sunfish, and the regulation will continue to be in place.

PUBLIC PROCESS Special regulations that are specific to individual waters take precedence over statewide regulations. Special regulations can be found in their own section of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, and are posted at public accesses.

Before changes are made, the DNR evaluates each regulation, shares what’s found in the evaluations and angler surveys, hosts public input meetings in the fall, and reviews comments from the public about the regulations. Goals of individual lake management plans also are considered.

“One goal of special regulations is to improve fish populations to make fishing better or more sustainable. So we need the public to tell us what they want for the process to be most effective, and we value that input,” Stevens said.

For more information on special or experimental fishing regulations, visit the Fish Minnesota page.