Walleyes headliner for public comment, potential reg changes on Lake of the Woods, Rainy River, Leech
The Minnesota DNR will seek public input this fall on two proposed regulation changes on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River that would take effect on March 1, 2019.
In a news release Monday, Aug. 20, the agency also announced it will seek public input this fall on a proposed walleye regulation change on Leech Lake that would take effect at the start of the 2019 open water fishing season.
At Lake of the Woods/Rainy River, public comments will be solicited at an open house held from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 8 at Lake of the Woods School Monday.
Winter (Dec. 1 – April 14) walleye and sauger proposed regulation change
The current winter regulation 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.
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 limited would remain in effect.
“Expanding winter pressure has resulted in sauger harvest exceeding management objectives with 80 percent of the sauger harvest coming in the winter season,” said Phil Talmage, DNR Baudette area fisheries supervisor.
Rainy River spring season (March 1 – April 14) proposed regulation change
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 greater.
The proposed regulation change is a catch and release season that would take effect March 1-April 14 on the Rainy River and Four Mile Bay. Increasing pressure and harvest focused on pre-spawn male Walleye have impacted the spawning population in the Rainy River.
This regulation would maintain the spring sport fishery while protecting the long-term sustainability of the Rainy River spawning population and reduce 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,” said Talmage. “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.”
Following the meeting, comments will be accepted through Oct. 18. Those not attending the meeting can provide comments by calling the Baudette area fisheries office at 218-634-2522 or by emailing email@example.com. Metro anglers can also provide comments in person to Al Stevens at the DNR Office in St. Paul, 500 Lafayette Road, on Sept. 26.
At Leech Lake, public comments will be solicited at an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Walker Area Community Center, Monday, Sept. 24.
The current walleye regulation on Leech Lake is four fish, requiring the immediate release of any walleye that are within a 20 to 26-inch protected slot limit. Only one fish over 26 inches allowed in possession. The four-fish walleye possession limit on Leech Lake has been in effect since 2005.
“The regulation was initially put in place to help protect spawning fish,” said Doug Schultz, DNR Walker area fisheries supervisor. “Regulation goals have been exceeded, prompting the DNR to propose increased harvest opportunity at this time.”
The proposed regulation change would remove the 20 to 26-inch protected slot and replace it with a regulation similar to the statewide regulation, but with a four fish walleye limit, only one of which can be over 20 inches.
According to Carl Pedersen, the DNR large lake specialist on Leech Lake, the walleye population is in excellent condition at this time and can afford some additional harvest.
“We have an abundant population of spawning age fish with a wide distribution of sizes, and multiple year classes of smaller fish entering the fishery,” said Pedersen. “Protective fishing regulations combined with very consistent production of year classes over the past 10 years have put us in a very good position.”
When future fisheries assessments indicate harvest should be reduced, the DNR anticipates revisiting the protected slot limit at that time.
Following the meeting, comments will be accepted through Oct. 5. Those unable to attend the meeting can provide comments by calling the Walker area fisheries office at 218-547-1683 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Metro anglers can also provide comments in person to Al Stevens at the DNR Office in St. Paul, 500 Lafayette Road, on Sept. 26.