Relaxed walleye slot for Leech Lake?

St. Paul — The DNR has announced a series of meetings to be held in September and October that will allow officials to review with anglers special fishing regulations. On the agenda is a proposal to “relax” the walleye slot on Leech Lake.

Leech Lake walleyes have been on the fast-track to recovery since the DNR began a fry-stocking regimen in 2005. Since that time, officials say the lake has met a number of goals, including those pertaining to spawning biomass and gill-net catches during surveys. In fact, they believe higher walleye numbers might be having a negative effect on perch, an important food source.

“We’re trying to moderate the population somewhat,” said Al Stevens, DNR Fisheries program consultant.

For several years, an 18- to 26-inch protected slot has been in place regarding Leech’s walleyes. Now the DNR would like to make that a 20- to 26-inch slot, but retain a four-walleye bag limit. Also, one fish over 26 inches would be allowed in possession, as it has in the past.

The DNR announced the plan for Leech this spring.

Doug Schultz, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Walker, said between now and an October meeting, the DNR will have collected more information regarding Leech during its fall netting. However, he said, he doesn’t expect any new revelations to come from the assessment.

“(Walleye) fishing has been good this year,” he said. “There have been good reports from all around the lake.”

Furthermore, there’s an impressive year-class of fish, hatched in 2011, that should provide fine fishing in the near future, Schultz said.

Considering goals regarding walleyes for Leech have been met, and because a reduction in “condition value” of walleyes, likely due to fewer perch in the lake, has occurred, Schultz said the department would entertain, should it be suggested by a local advisory committee, reducing walleye stocking next year, when 22 million fry are scheduled to be placed in the lake. The plan, he said, remains to stock that number of fish, but the DNR would consider a more modest stocking of perhaps 5 million or 7 million fry.

The meeting to discuss the proposed slot change for Leech walleyes will be held from 6-8:30 p.m., Oct. 9, at the Walker Area Community Center.

Stony and Thirteen

Two other Cass County lakes will be under the microscope at a meeting slated for Sept. 25, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Walker Area Community Center.

The current bass regulation for Stony Lake is a protected 12- to 20-inch slot. Schultz said the DNR has proposed a 14- to 20-inch slot, which would include smallmouth bass, which are a relative newcomer to the lake. One fish over 20 inches is allowed in possession.

The DNR also would like to see a few more bass harvested from Lake Thirteen, thus is suggesting a 12-inch maximum regulation be changed to a 14- to 20-inch slot, like Stony.

“It would be palatable for most anglers, and it would cut down on complexity,” Schultz said.

Fish Lake Reservoir

There are experimental regulation lakes where review is expected after a certain period of time, and there are special regulation lakes, where they may be reviewed, but it’s more of a permanent designation. The walleyes of the Fish Lake Reservoir near Duluth, however, fit into a different category: They’re protected via a regulation requiring the release of all fish less than 13 inches or greater than 17 inches. One over 26 inches is allowed in possession. The possession limit is three.

Stevens said that regulation was implemented last year after “a long discussion” with the local lake association. The rule was put in place to protect spawning walleyes, he said.

The proposal is to make it a special regulation, and a meeting addressing that plan will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Oct.14. Call the DNR Fisheries office at (218) 525-0853 for meeting location information.

Three new special reg lakes in Itasca County?

Special walleye regulations will be the topic of discussion at two upcoming meetings. The first will be 7-9 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Squaw Lake Community Center. The second is 7-9 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.

On the docket: The continuance of special walleye regulations for nine lakes in the county, and also the addition of three popular waters, including Bowstring, Jessie, and Sand lakes. DNR officials had told local groups and anglers in 2005 that it would look into a special reg for those lakes, similar to the one implemented on nine others (Swan and Trout, near Coleraine; Splithand, Moose, and Island, near Northome; Round, near Squaw Lake; and Deer, Battle, and Pickerel, near Effie) that year.

That regulation is the popular 17- to 26-inch slot, with one walleye over 26 inches allowed in possession.

“We feel we have the information now to show that (the regulation) might work (on the newly proposed lakes),” Stevens said.

He also said there now appears to be more angler support for the regulation, which is intended to protect spawning walleyes, and retain quality-size fish.

Olmsted County panfish

Stevens said special panfish regulations had been in effect for 10 ponds in the Rochester area, but the regulation for five lakes inadvertently was dropped when a special northern pike regulation was discontinued. An emergency regulation was put in place to keep the panfish reg in place on the list. The DNR suggests the regulation be made “special” again.

“It was a technical issue,” Stevens said.

Water bodies on the list include the Bear Creek Reservoir, Foster-Arend Pond, Kalmar Reservoir, Quarry Hill Pond, and Willow Reservoir.

A meeting to address the matter – a combined panfish limit of 10, of which just five may be crappies – will be held 1-3 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Rochester DNR office.

Muskies in Elk Lake

For Elk Lake in Clearwater County, the DNR proposed to continue a catch-and-release fishery for muskies, Stevens said.

A meeting regarding that rule will be held from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 26 at Douglas Lodge at Itasca State Park.

Stevens said the DNR continues to evaluate whether or not special regulations for various species in various state waters are working.

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