DNR seeking input on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River regulation changes

Angling regulations that would change on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in northern Minnesota are the topic of an open house for the public to give input on the proposals from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Oct. 8, at Lake of the Woods School. 

The changes under consideration by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources would reduce the number of walleye and sauger allowed to be kept in the winter on the lake, and on the river allow only catch-and-release fishing for those fish in the spring. The changes would take effect on March 1, 2019.

Winter walleye and sauger proposal

The proposed winter regulations would match the current summer regulations on Lake of the Woods, reducing the aggregate walleye and sauger limit to six, with no more than four walleye. The protected slot limit would remain in effect.

The current winter regulation from Dec. 1 to April 14 on Lake of the Woods allows anglers to keep eight walleye and sauger, with no more than four walleye. There is a protected slot limit requiring anglers to immediately release any walleye between 19.5 and 28 inches, with only one fish over 28 inches allowed in possession.

DNR Baudette area fisheries supervisor Phil Talmage said expanding winter pressure has resulted in sauger harvest exceeding management objectives with 80 percent of the sauger harvest coming in the winter season.

Rainy River spring season proposal

The proposed regulation change is a catch-and-release season that would be in effect March 1 to April 14 on the Rainy River and Fourmile Bay. Increasing pressure and harvest focused on pre-spawn male walleye have impacted the spawning population in the Rainy River.

The current Rainy River spring season regulation allows anglers to keep two walleye or sauger, and requires the immediate release of walleye 19.5 inches in length or larger.

This regulation would maintain the spring sport fishery while protecting the long-term sustainability of the Rainy River spawning population and reducing the overall harvest of walleye from the Lake of the Woods-Rainy River system.

“Walleye and sauger populations on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River are doing well, but  increasing fishing pressure has resulted in increased harvest and stress on the fishery,” Talmage said. “These regulations are intended to be a proactive approach to ensure the high quality fishery that anglers have come to expect from the border water region.”

There will be a short presentation at the open house. Following the meeting, comments will be accepted through Thursday, Oct. 18. Those not attending the meeting can provide comments by calling the Baudette area fisheries office at 218-634-2522 or by emailing baudette.fisheries@state.mn.us.

Anglers who can’t make the meeting in Baudette 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.

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