The Minnesota DNR is considering a reduction in the yellow perch possession limit for all inland waters and Minnesota-South Dakota borders waters. In addition, fishing regulation changes are being sought for several waters including: the Red River on the Minnesota-North Dakota border; the Mississippi, St. Croix and St. Louis rivers on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border; Pelican Lake in St. Louis County; Mille Lacs Lake in Aitkin and Mille Lacs counties; Eagle Creek in Scott County and Little Sauk Lake in Todd County.
The possession limit for yellow perch, currently 100 for inland waters, reflects Minnesota's past when perch were not highly valued. Today, perch is a popular panfish in Minnesota and the 100-limit has resulted in over harvest on Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota's premier perch fishery. Surveys on Winnie indicate that over harvest of perch on Winnie is causing the average size of perch to decline. DNR biologists are concerned that other fisheries could also be affected as the popularity of perch fishing increases. Consequently, the DNR is considering a significant reduction in the possession limit for yellow perch on all inland waters and on Minnesota-South Dakota borders waters.
On the Red River, the DNR is working with the North Dakota Department of Game and Fish to have consistent fishing seasons. Currently, North Dakota has a continuous season on its side of the Red River while Minnesota's season for walleye, sauger, northern pike and largemouth and smallmouth bass is closed in March and April. The two resource agencies are considering a "conservation season" for walleye, sauger and northern pike that would run from March 15 through May 1 and have stricter possession limits the remainder of the open season. A continuous season is being considered for bass and catfish on Minnesota's portion of the Red River.
More uniform regulations are also being considered for the Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters. Changes could include a 15-inch minimum size limit for walleye on Pool 3 of the Mississippi River from Lock and Dam No. 2 at Hastings to Lock and Dam No. 3 at Red Wing, and a 14-inch minimum size limit for largemouth and smallmouth bass on the St. Croix River upstream of Taylors Falls and on the St. Louis River. A fall catch-and-release season for smallmouth bass on the St. Croix River above Taylors Falls is also being considered. Wisconsin has proposed the same changes for its portions of these waters.
On Pelican Lake near Orr, slot limits implemented in 1998 have proven unpopular with some anglers. A recent public input meeting indicated that local anglers were opposed to the northern pike slot limit and would like to see it dropped. The DNR is considering dropping the northern pike slot limit and retaining the slot limit for largemouth bass.
On Mille Lacs Lake, growing interest in the trophy smallmouth bass fishery has prompted concerns that more protection is needed. A harvest restriction is being considered that would call for either catch and release only or a high minimum size limit.
On Eagle Creek, one of a few remaining trout streams in the metro area, catch and release only is being considered. Urban development has caused the loss of most metro area trout streams. However, Eagle Creek is undergoing major habitat restoration efforts and anglers feel that trout need complete protection from harvest during this period.
Little Sauk Lake in Todd County is being considered as the first of a kind "conservation lake." Regulations for this lake would significantly reduce possession limits for all species in order to provide a higher quality fishing experience.
Public comments and ideas are welcome on all the changes being considered. Comments may be submitted through June 11 by writing Linda Erickson-Eastwood, Box 12, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, Minn., 55155-4012; by calling (651) 296-3325 from the Twin Cities metro area or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR from the remainder of Minnesota; or by sending e-mail to email@example.com
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