DNR pushing for early catch and release bass season in 2015

Joe AlbertCount me as a supporter of the DNR’s proposal to create an early catch and release season for bass. The agency will unveil the proposal formally in  the near future – likely next month – as part of a larger package of changes it’s proposing.

Under the proposal, there would be a catch and release season for bass that begins with the walleye opener. It would run for two weeks, and then the regular bass season would begin the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, just as it does now.

So in the end, it allows for an extra two weeks of bass fishing every year. I guess maybe it will cause the traditional opener to lose some of its luster, but is that really a big deal? I think not.

The main reason for having the opener at the end of May is to protect spawning bass. That’s all fine and good, but in pushing the early catch and release season, DNR officials say they don’t believe it will hurt bass populations. Bass caught off beds will go back to the beds, so long as they’re released right after being caught, they say. For that reason, the agency won’t be issuing any tournament permits during the catch and release season.

The reality of it is that the current season doesn’t protect every spawning bass, anyway. I do most of my bass fishing, for example, in lakes around the Alexandria area. Unless the springs are extremely warm, there’s just about always bass on beds when the season opens Memorial Day weekend. Given that, I can’t imagine the current season protects any spawners in more northern locales.

Stay tuned for more information about this proposal and others the DNR is pushing, including a 50-inch minimum size limit for muskies (which I also support). The agency will collect public input before making final decisions.

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