DNR seeks public input about walleye regulations on 5 St. Louis County lakes

Anglers interested in walleye fishing on Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, Crane and Little Vermilion lakes in northern St. Louis County are invited to participate in public meetings to review the current walleye regulation on these lakes that make up the Namakan Reservoir. 

“These five lakes are popular fishing destinations. While each lake has had a different response to the current regulation, the fisheries are healthy overall,” said Kevin Peterson, International Falls area fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We want to be sure the public has plenty of opportunity to ask questions and participate in the discussion.”

There will be two meetings, each with a similar format: 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the Kabetogama Community Center along County Road 122 in Kabetogama; and 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Crane Lake Fire Hall, 7400 Handberg Road in Crane Lake.

The DNR is presenting options to modify the current size and bag limit, and one option to extend the regulation as-is. The current regulation has been in place since 2007 and will expire on March 1, 2019. Input at the meetings will help determine if they are modified or extended to achieve fish management objectives.

The current experimental regulation for walleye requires the immediate release of walleye from 17 to 28 inches. One walleye more than 28 inches long is allowed in a possession limit of four walleye. Anglers are currently allowed four walleye in a combined limit of six walleye and sauger.

In addition to retaining the current regulation, another option under consideration would modify the protected slot to match the current Rainy Lake regulation of an 18-26 inch protected slot limit with one walleye over 26 inches. A third option could be to set a harvest slot that would not only protect a similar size range of larger fish as the protected slot, but also protect smaller fish from harvest. All options could be combined with a four-fish aggregate bag limit for walleye and sauger; a reduction of two sauger from the current limit.

“Angler preferences will have a great deal of influence over these regulations,” Peterson said. “At this point, we have some ideas of regulation options but input from the public will help us decide on the specifics.”

People unable to attend a meeting may submit written comments to the DNR area fisheries office, 392 Highway 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649; by phone at 218-286-5220; or via email to kevin.peterson@state.mn.us. All comments must be received by Monday, Oct. 15.

Anglers who can’t make the meetings in Kabetogama or Crane Lake can attend an open house about that and other regulation proposals from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the DNR headquarters in St. Paul, 500 Lafayette Road. No formal presentations will be made but staff will be available to take comments.

More information on fishing regulations can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/fishing.