After reviewing public comments, the experimental northern pike regulations currently in place for Bowstring and Round (including connected Alice) lakes in Itasca County were repealed March 1, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.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.
A statewide regulation change was proposed for northern pike that, if passed, is expected to produce good results on Bowstring and Round lakes. The northern pike zone proposal would create three distinct zones in Minnesota, each with its own harvest regulation for northern pike. The zone proposal for northern pike management has continued to progress, but currently needs legislative action to be finalized and will not be in place for the 2017 fishing opener.
This means that the limit on Bowstring and Round lakes will revert back to the current statewide three fish bag limit with one over 30 allowed in possession for the 2017 fishing season. 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 on Sand Lake was conducted in 2011, when the regulation was only a few years old,” said Grand Rapids are fisheries supervisor, Dave Weitzel. “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.
For more information contact the Grand Rapids Area Fisheries office at 218-328-8836 or find it on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/grandrapids/index.html.