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DNR: Even with new pike zone rules, special regs still take precedence

(Minnesota DNR)

One question that may arise from anglers regarding the new northern pike zone regulations: What about special regulations that apply to individual waters?

The answer is simple: Special regulations take precedence over statewide regulations, including the new pike zone regulations, which go into effect when the season opens Saturday, May 12. If the possession limit on a special regulation lake, river or stream is different than the zone limit, the special regulation limit applies, the Minnesota DNR said in a news release Monday, April 30.

An example is Wabedo Lake in Cass County that has a special regulation for pike requiring all pike from 24 to 36 inches to be immediately released, with a possession limit of three pike and only one over 36 inches. Even though the north-central zone regulation has a higher possession limit than three, an angler on Wabedo could only keep three pike but none from 24 to 36 inches and just one over 36 inches.

(Minnesota DNR)

Special regulations are designed to meet specific management objectives for individual waters based on lake-specific fish population characteristics, the DNR said in the release, adding that they aim to improve fish populations where statewide regulations are not sufficient to meet objectives, like managing a lake for trophy-sized fish.

There are more than 90 waters in the state with special regulations on northern pike, all listed in the special regulations section of the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations. They may also be found using the DNR’s Lake Finder tool at

In contrast, the northern pike regulations for inland waters announced recently have three distinct zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota.

“We want special regulations to actually be special. What’s more, we are limited by statute as to how many special regulation waters there can be,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the DNR. “So having zones for pike is a way to achieve management goals while simplifying regulations.”

According to the DNR, while many special regulations remain in place, for some waters the pike zone regulations allow several previously existing special regulations to go away, mainly when they aim for similar outcomes as the zone regulations.

The pike zone regulations apply only to inland waters. For more information visit or contact a local area fisheries office. Contact information may be found at or in the printed fishing regulations booklet.

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