After reviewing public comments, the experimental northern pike regulations currently in place for Bowstring and Round lakes in Itasca County will be repealed March 1, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The experimental regulation currently in place for Sand Lake will remain in effect for now.
Since 2007, these lakes have been managed with an experimental regulation that allows a possession limit of nine northern pike and requires all pike from 22 to 36 inches long to be immediately released. The intent of the special regulation was to encourage harvest of an overabundance of small northern pike and develop a quality fishery of larger northern pike.
“At a statewide level, the zone proposal for northern pike management has continued to progress, and is currently in the rulemaking process,” said David Weitzel, Grand Rapids area fisheries supervisor. “Because the zonal regulation is a very similar to the existing special regulation on Bowstring and Round lakes, and is expected to produce a similar fishery on these lakes, the few comments received were supportive of following the anticipated change to the zone management approach and repealing the special regulation.”
The zone proposal would set the possession limit at 10 fish while protecting fish from 22 to 26 inches long. Two fish over 26 inches would be allowed in possession. Spear fishers would be allowed the option to harvest one fish from 22 to 26 inches along with one over 26 inches.
The status of the Sand Lake pike fishery was not as clear, and the current experimental regulation will be extended by one year so additional biological data can be collected.
“The last summer assessment was conducted in 2011, when the regulation was only a few years old,” Weitzel said. “At that time, the regulation was too new to expect a significant change in the pike size structure. Sand Lake is scheduled for an assessment in 2017 and this assessment will provide much better information on pike size potential. By extending the regulation, we will have a better understanding of the current pike status in the lake, and know more about when the zone approach might be put in place.”
The DNR will review the regulation again in 2017, with an additional comment period and public meeting next fall.
More information is available by contacting the Grand Rapids Area Fisheries office at 218-328-8836 and on DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/grandrapids/index.html.