Whitefish, tullibee sport-netting to open on Shagawa, Bear Island, Ojibway lakes

Dates have been set for recreational netting for whitefish and tullibee (cisco) on Shagawa, Bear Island and Ojibway lakes in the Tower fisheries work area, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

These lakes are Schedule I Lakes, which are more susceptible to sudden changes that impact water temperatures, and are opened and closed on a 48-hour notice posted at lake accesses, other public places, and the DNR website.

Schedule I Lakes (48 hour notice)

  • Shagawa, open to netting Sunday, Nov. 5  through Monday, Nov. 27, 2017  (minimum 3.5 inch mesh size)
  • Bear Island & Ojibway lakes, open to netting Saturday, Nov. 18 through Saturday, Dec. 18, 2017 (minimum 1.75 inch mesh size)

Shagawa Lake is designated as infested with spiny waterflea so netters are encouraged to review rules that help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Fishing regulations require that:

  • Netters purchase both a whitefish netting license and angling license.
  • A person may use only one gill net, not exceeding 100 feet in length and 3 feet in width.
  • One end of net must have a pole, stake, or buoy projecting at least two feet above the surface of the water or ice.
  • Nets must have an identification tag attached near the first float of the end that is projecting from the surface of the water or ice.
  • Identification tags must be a minimum of 2 ½ inches by 5/8 inch permanently bearing the name and address of the owner. Identification tags for marking nets are provided by the owner.
  • Nets may not be set after sunset or raised before sunrise.
  • All gill nets must be set and lifted by the licensee only. Anyone assisting in the taking of whitefish or ciscoes must have proper licensing.
  • Nets must be tended at least once every 24 hours and all gamefish and non-target species must be immediately released from the net.
  • A net may not be set in any water deeper than six feet.
  • A net may not be set within 50 feet of another net.
  • Minimum gill net mesh size shall be no less than 1-3/4 or 3-1/2 inch stretch measure depending on the lake (see full list of lake and size regulations online).
  • Nets used in designated infested waters must be dried for a minimum of 10 days or frozen for 2 days before using in a different water body. Nets should be dried for 10 days or frozen for 2 before moving from any lake to another.
  • Nets used in spiny water flea and/or zebra mussel infested waters should be not used in any other waterbody
  • Nets should be transported in sealed container.
  • Whitefish and ciscoes taken by sport gill-netting may not be bought or sold.
  • Whitefish and ciscoes taken by sport gill-netting may not be used as bait.
  • Within the Leech Lake Reservation boundaries, the possession limit for whitefish taken by sport gill-netting is 25, and the possession limit for ciscoes taken by sport gill-netting is 50.
  • Net placement should not inhibit use of the lake by other boaters.

About 700 people obtain special permits to net for whitefish-tullibee each year. The DNR bases netting schedules on expected water temperatures, fish abundance and vulnerability of game fish. As the water temperature cools, game fish head to deeper water and whitefish-tullibee come to shallow water for fall spawning.  Netting is allowed when there is little chance that game fish populations would be negatively impacted by recreational netting in shallow water.

Find information about sport netting by lake, minimum mesh sizes, and fishing regulations at

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/fishing/whitefish-tullibee.pdf or contact the DNR’s Tower area office at 650 Highway 169, Tower, MN 55790, or call 218-300-7802.