"To protect spawning fish, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has begun to close certain portions of some Minnesota waters. The closings are routine and based on local conditions.
Closings occur each year as ice-out begins and waters begin to warm. The DNR closes the spawning locations to fishing only where habitat is limited and fish are very concentrated in one location, such as a river or the bay of a lake where fish are congregated during spawning.
Areas closed to fishing are listed and updated on the DNR website (mndnr.gov/Regulations/Fishing/Fishing-Seasonal-Closures.html). Portions of waters closed to fishing also are posted at access sites and in other visible areas. Anglers may fish in areas that are not posted."
Anglers fishing during the 2022 open-water season that starts May 14 on Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota will have a four-walleye possession limit, with only one walleye longer than 20 inches allowed, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Although angler activity was once again high last winter, harvest was modest at 134,000 pounds of walleye. Early winter fishing was very good, but heavy snow reduced anglers’ mobility and harvest in the later months.
Fall netting is used to assess the status of the walleye population and directly informs the pounds of walleye that can be sustainably harvested throughout the year — 2021 surveys found a robust population of walleye. The four-walleye possession limit, with one over 20-inch size restriction, is intended to keep total annual harvest within the target harvest range of 240,000 to 336,000 pounds. The 2021 open water regulation was a three-walleye limit with one over 17 inches allowed.
“We are happy that anglers will have the opportunity to harvest a few more and larger fish this summer,” said Edie Evarts, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor. “This is due to a combination of lower winter harvest and a desire to manage spawning stock at a level that stimulates recruitment of strong year classes.”
The Red Lake Nation and the Minnesota DNR manage walleye harvest on Red Lake under a joint harvest plan that the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee revised in 2015.
The 2022-2023 winter harvest regulations will be determined after the summer fishing season and the completion of fall assessment netting.
An Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee reviews walleye harvest totals and regulation options and provides recommendations for the state waters of Upper Red Lake.
Conservation success story
Red Lake is a naturally productive walleye fishery but over harvest caused the walleye population to collapse in the 1990s.
In 1999, the DNR, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and the Bureau of Indian Affairs agreed to a short-term stocking effort coupled with a harvest closure and aggressive enforcement. In 2006, the harvest fishery was reopened and has been managed successfully since that time. Upper Red Lake has become a top Minnesota fishing destination in summer and winter.
“We said it years ago and it’s worth repeating — Red Lake walleye fishing today represents a phenomenal conservation success story,” said Brad Parsons, Minnesota DNR’s Fisheries section chief. “We have many year classes of mature fish and consistent natural reproduction which enables us to manage this fishery for great fishing now and into the future.” Upper Red Lake fishing regulations are available on the Minnesota DNR fishing regulations page (mndnr.gov/Fishing/Upper-Red-Lake-Regulations.html).
"Mille Lacs Lake walleye anglers will have two potential opportunities for harvest during the 2022 open water season.
A one-fish limit will allow Mille Lacs anglers to harvest one walleye, 21 to 23 inches or one walleye longer than 28 inches from Saturday, May 14, 2022 through Monday, May 30, 2022.
(Catch and release fishing for walleye begins on May 31, 2022 and ends on June 30, 2022)
After a summer of catch-and-release fishing with an early July closure to reduce hooking mortality, the one-fish limit is expected to return on Thursday, Sept. 1.
“We must continue to manage state harvest very carefully on Mille Lacs so we can provide as much angling opportunity as prudent while protecting the opportunities for the future,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Two recent year classes show below average numbers of walleye, which means we need to factor in that fewer fish than normal will mature into spawning adults during the next few years.”
While the drops in fall walleye catch rates for the 2018 and 2019 year classes aren’t as dramatic as previous levels that closed walleye harvest on Mille Lacs, they do signal that more conservative walleye harvest regulations may be needed in coming years.
“Our goal for Mille Lacs fishing regulations now and in the future is to offer fishing opportunities while also maintaining the long-term sustainability of the lake’s fish populations,” Parsons said.
After opening weekend (when fishing is allowed 24 hours a day) fishing hours on Mille Lacs Lake will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all species. Beginning Saturday, June 4, muskellunge and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches can fish after 10 p.m.
Walleye fishing will be catch-and-release from Wednesday, June 1 through Thursday, June 30. A two-week closure – implemented to reduce hooking mortality — will be in place from Friday, July 1 through Friday, July 15. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will resume on Saturday, July 16 and continue through Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The one-fish walleye limit is scheduled to resume Thursday, Sept. 1 through Wednesday, Nov. 30. During this period, anglers may fish from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Season structure depends on many factors
“Our projections make me confident we’ll have fall harvest,” Parsons said. “But predicting fishing pressure, catch rates and weather involves some uncertainty, so we want people to recognize that the fall harvest will depend on how much of the state’s walleye harvest total remains as we approach September.”
The state and the eight Ojibwe bands that have treaty fishing rights have agreed that Mille Lacs Lake can sustain a total walleye harvest of up to 135,000 pounds in 2022, with state anglers harvesting up to 80,300 pounds and a maximum tribal harvest of 54,700 pounds.
The drop from last year’s levels of 87,800 pounds for state anglers and 62,200 pounds for tribal harvest was necessary to account for below-average catches of the 2018 and 2019 year classes in the fall walleye population survey
“Factors can change so we’ll reassess the walleye population come fall,” Parsons said. “Fish in those year classes in question are important for replacing the current mature walleye that are lost to both fishing and natural mortality.”
Mille Lacs Lake has been in a state of change since the 1990s, when the water clarity started to improve. Since then, there has also been warmer water temperatures and the introduction of invasive species such as zebra mussel and spiny water flea.
“The changing lake conditions impact fish populations and we will continue to monitor the lake to determine how these changes will influence fishing opportunities in the future,” Parsons said.
This year’s winter walleye harvest was about 6,800 pounds, less than half of what was expected. Lower catch rates for anglers and poor ice conditions in the early season were responsible. That drop in winter walleye take gave the DNR more flexibility to implement less restrictive open water regulations for 2022.
Even with the drop in winter harvest, a two-week closure during what’s normally one of the hottest times of the summer is needed to remain within the state’s harvest total. As water temperature increases, so does hooking mortality — the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released. Protecting walleye during this vulnerable period can allow for many weeks of harvest during cooler times of the year.
The northern pike population on Mille Lacs Lake is healthy and harvest of fish under 30 inches is encouraged for anglers looking for another option to bring home a meal of fish.
To help avoid incidental catch of walleye during the two-week closure in July, fishing for any species with certain kinds of bait will be restricted. Anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge can use sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. But anglers targeting other fish may not use live, dead, preserved or parts of minnows, night crawlers, worms, leeches or crayfish."
More information about fishing regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, ongoing DNR management and research, citizen engagement and Mille Lacs area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website (mndnr.gov/MilleLacsLake).
"Once upon a time, anglers went on the water and caught bass without the aid of electronics. I know, the way the bass-fishing world is now, that statement sounds like some mythical fairy tale about a land far, far away. Honestly, it seems about as likely to be true as a talking donkey and a big green monster with hyacinth-shaped ears.
But there was a time when that was, in fact, true. Then paper graphs with literal printouts came along and flashers that marked depth and anything that came directly between the beam and the bottom. Then 2D sonar was responsible for a big leap forward. After all that, it seemed like the whole bass fishing world exploded with the advent of technology that could clearly draw pictures of what had just passed under and to the side of the boat.
Shortly thereafter, the bass fishing world was flipped end-over-end again when live images ..." Learn More >> Electronics Free Agent? Crews Explains Why He Uses Several Brands
"Anglers will find this and other changes in the updated fishing regulations booklet.
Sunfish anglers need to closely check the 2022 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet and signs at water accesses for new sunfish limits in effect on 52 lakes and connected waters starting March 1.
The new regulations lower limits on specific waters as part of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources initiative to protect and improve sunfish sizes. These changes are in response to angler-driven concerns over the declining sizes of sunfish in Minnesota.
“This is the final batch of new sunfish regulations that will be part of the Quality Sunfish Initiative. We’re pleased to be at our overall goal of 200 to 250 lakes with these special regulations,” said Dave Weitzel, Grand Rapids area fisheries supervisor. “We’ve had an impressive amount of public support all along for these regulations. Anglers spoke up that they want large sunfish in our lakes.”
The new regulations modify daily limits on the affected waterbodies. Anglers can keep only the prescribed number of fish per day but can return the next day for another limit if they don’t exceed the statewide inland water possession limit of 20 sunfish per angler. Beginning in 2022, nearly all lakes with special regulations for sunfish will use the same reduced daily limit approach where the statewide possession limit still applies. There are a few exceptions so anglers should read the regulations book carefully.
These regulations are designed with sunfish biology in mind. Sunfish spawn in large nesting colonies during the spring and early summer. Parental male sunfish build and defend nests. Females select a male, lay eggs, and leave the eggs for the male to protect. The largest sunfish often get the best spawning sites. These nest-building male sunfish play an important role in regulating the population’s size structure.
When anglers keep the largest sunfish, the remaining small males don’t need to compete with large males to spawn. With the large males gone, the small males devote less energy to growing, mature and spawn at smaller sizes, and fail to grow to the size preferred by anglers.
Minnesota fishing regulations use sunfish as the generic name for bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish, longear, warmouth and their hybrids. More about the Quality Sunfish Initiative is available on the DNR website.
Other fishing regulation changes in the 2022 regulations book include removal of an experimental 17-inch minimum length for walleye on Clear Lake in Washington County. The regulation was removed because management objectives were not achieved. The statewide regulation now applies and is expected to perform equally well.
Some of the lakes getting new sunfish limits will also see changes to crappie limits. Eight lakes will have the crappie limit reduced to five — five lakes in the Duluth area and one lake each in the Brainerd, Spicer and Walker areas. Finally, special sunfish regulations were reviewed on Ox Yoke and Sanborn lakes, both in Cass County, and the new regulation will be a five fish daily limit after the 10 fish limit failed to meet management objectives.
The 2022 Minnesota fishing regulations are available online and anywhere Minnesota fishing licenses are sold. The new sunfish regulations are found in the special regulations that begin on page 37 of the booklet."
In my article yesterday (2-14-2022), I wrote, “I got the impression that for 2022, the debate (regarding reducing Minnesota’s walleye bag limit), the personalities and the positions are all essentially the same as they were in 2021. If anything has changed at all, it’s that folks on either side have hardened their positions even more since last year’s debate.”
Arriving by email, reader comments suggested that my assessment wasn’t far off, there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue and I'll share as many as I'm allowed. But because this one is particularly complex, I want to tackle it first and seperately.
"Hey Jeff, Read your site today as well as Dennis Anderson's story in Sunday Strib. I have to totally disagree with what you and Dennis mention, which is that the choice to drop the walleye limit to 4 is not based on scientific evidence, rather a societal one.
"Societal decisions" are like everything else these days: overused and overhyped. As someone who is a mediocre fisherman at best, with a lifetime of experience on the water, as well as a keen observer, I can find no logic in yours or Dennis's assertions. Too many people double and triple limiting a lake when fishing is good, too many wheelhouses where fish are caught, consumed, and limits brought home, too easy to get information on a hot bite and show up at said spot, too much technology=a recipe for disaster. So, it's better to react after a disaster has occurred? That’s the definition of insanity.
We are surrounded by misuse of public lands by motorized land based recreation. Wakeboard boats overpopulate popular lakes in the summertime creating noise and shoreline damage from their huge wakes. Yet nothing, and I mean NOTHING has been done to somewhat rein in these out of control activities.
What you are suggesting is that we stay re-active rather than pro-active. But so often the problem with that assumption is that playing catch-up can be a long and difficult journey with outcomes the natural world can't accomplish.
Ontario has had a 4 fish limit as well as size restrictions for a long time. Proactive. Not reactive.
If you want to avoid "societal decisions" as mentioned, then support many more COs. I fully support the 4 walleye limit. It's got nothing to do with "imposing" our values and everything to do with societies insatiable thirst for destruction. THAT is the problem.” Regards, Dan
A) First off, I’m not sure that defining me as “insane” is the best way to either gain my cooperation or influence my thinking. But since Dan does bring up some valid and oft-cited points, I have chosen to accept that, along with his comments and share them, with permissioin, in un-edited form.
How anybody can make the assertion that my position is not born out of a logical process is mysterious too. But maybe that might be my own fault, I think it’s because I’ve seen all the same arguments so many times that I didn’t take enough time yesterday to lay out the groundwork for my argument.
Over the years, anglers justify the need for reducing walleye bag limits by citing a list of social issues that they believe makes their arguments compelling. Dan’s message touched on most of those issues, so I broke his comments down logically, added a few more that he hadn’t mentioned and formed what I’ll call the big list of dirty deeds.
We are told by Dan, along with others, that the best way to resolve many of these "social issues" is to reduce the legal statewide walleye limit from 6 fish, down to 4 fish. Okay, so let's take an objective look at the list and use logic to find instances where dropping the limit will result in an improvement.
Sometimes the only way to answer a question is with a question. So, here goes; “How will forcing honest, law-abiding citizens into a reduction in walleye bag limits actually result in changing any of the behaviors outlined in the list of “dirty deeds”?
Over-limits, double-dipping and freezer stuffing are already against the law. So is the misuse of public lands, littering and violating noise, navigation and public safety regulations. Unless I’m missing something, dropping the walleye limit won’t change any of that.
What would help, in my opinion, is adding more conservation officers. That one is a great idea because many of the troubles that we face today result from what are already violations of game and fish regulations. So, adding more conservation officers is an idea I can support.
Simply seeing a CO in the field heightens anglers' observance of fish and game regulations, their presence alone serves to reduce over-harvest. So, to the extent that over-harvest is a significant problem on any given lake, this would be a much more efficient way to reduce it. Additionally, the positive side-effects of helping to cut down on other issues like littering, impolite boating behavior and other violations on the water would be icing on the cake.
I’m not a big fan of certain practices that my fellow anglers and boaters engage in either. The way I see it, there are some problems on this list that do need to be addressed. The problem is that I don't see how reducing walleye limits would fix them. So why not turn our attention toward things that might work better. Let’s work together to educate, encourage and be supportive of what is good, and for the good of our sport, discourage behaviors that reflect badly.
To borrow a quote from Superetramp's Crime of the Century album; "Don't arrange to have me sent to no asylum, I'm just as sane as anyone." Whether or not anybody follows my advice, I do try to offer legitimate, thoughtful, honest and yes, logical points of view about issues that relate to the betterment of fishing. I know that opinions vary, and I know too that even if I'm lucky, only a few people are swayed one way or another by any of my personal opinions.
I don’t presume to know you, or how to advise you specifically. But I do have my own simple way of parsing information and figuring out which side of any fence to land on. So, let me pose a hypothetical situation for those few of you who have not yet identified with one group or another.
Let's suppose that there are 2 groups of people courting you to become "a follower". Both groups present you with lots of information and some part of each argument makes sense. Because you like the idea of “doing something” about an issue, you’re contemplating joining one of them, but you’re facing a quandary. Which side is making the most sense, how do you decide which group to throw your support behind?
For me, whenever 1 group suggests that solving a problem requires giving up freedom, but the other side suggests that retaining freedom and resolving problems through education and personal responsibility is the answer, then I’ll choose education and personal responsibility every time. I don't think that's insane at all. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
MN Walleye Bag Limit Bill 01-07-2021 • Walleye Bill S.F 12 AFH Weighs In 02-11-2021 • Walleye Bag Limit Reduction "A Lively Discussion" 02-17-2021 • Walleye Bag Limits "Following The Follow-Able" 02-18-2021 • Walleye Bag Limits Linking the Link-Able 02-19-2021
Reducing Minnesota’s statewide walleye bag limit is back in the news for 2022, sort of.
Dennis Anderson’s, FEBRUARY 12, 2022, Star and Tribune column opens with this, “If Minnesota's six-walleye limit isn't hurting anything, why are some legislators and the DNR in favor again this legislative session of cutting the limit from six to four walleyes? Good question.”
Obviously, I’d like you to make your own judgement after you read Anerson's Star & Tribune 2-12-2022 article >> (Makes no scientific sense, but Minnesota DNR, Legislature mull cutting walleye limit from six to four) for yourself. But Anderson, in my opinion, does a good job of straddling the issue, giving both sides fair representation.
On the one hand, fisheries biologists mostly agree that that there is no “scientific reason” for reducing the statewide walleye limit and his article says so. On the other hand, some fishing experts, angling groups and even some DNR Fisheries folks find the idea of engineering the regulations based on “social concerns” appealing, the article says that too.
One sentiment that I was looking for, but couldn’t find though, was any sort of “New News”. After reading once, then re-reading it, I got the impression that for 2022, the debate, the personalities and the positions are all essentially the same as they were in 2021. If anything has changed at all, it’s that folks on either side have hardened their positions even more since last year’s debate.
Another quote from Anderson’s article says, “DNR fisheries chief Brad Parsons acknowledges the lack of scientific justification for a change, but says the proposal reflects a growing feeling among many anglers that four walleyes is a sufficient limit. Thus, rather than a science-based regulation adjustment, Parsons and other supporters of the change say the idea is socially based.”
If by now, the term “socially based” regulation doesn’t scare you, then it probably never will. But for me, the hair standing up on the back of my neck points toward the whole problem with socially based anything. When one group of people gets to decide what “they believe” is good for another group of people, it never ends well. It may seem like a fine idea when you’re on the winning side, but how many of us ever wind up always being on the winning side? Not many, I don't think, eventually the tables turn.
You’re an angler, what do you suppose would be the implications of a powerful and persuasive group of people deciding that fishing itself, in any form, is no longer “socially acceptable”? I know, you're thinking that's crazy talk, lunatic fringe stuff. But that’s just one point of view that I tried on for size in an internet search. I typed in the phrase "group seeks to ban fishing" and in .51 seconds, received almost 39 MILLION results; go ahead, try it yourself.
If you love fishing, hunting, trapping, shooting, whatever; your days are already numbered. As a group, the last thing we need is to be arguing among ourselves about which privileges are socially acceptable to lose.
If there are problems with fish limits, then let’s find out using scientific data and form plans based on that. In the meantime, I don’t think we should be so quick to judge what our fellow anglers do. We all have special circumstances that push us in one direction or another. Personally, I could live with a reduced limit, but I have easy access to good fishing, I don’t need to catch 6 fish. Some folks travel long distances though, and others only fish a time or two each season, I don’t think allowing them to go home with 6 fish is asking too much.
So, I’m choosing to follow the advice of my favorite nephew and I wouldn’t mind if everybody did. “Watch Your Own Bobber”. If you’re happy with a reduced possession limit, then nobody’s stopping you, go ahead and reduce yours, voluntarily. And if you love having a few walleyes to share with your friends and family, you won’t get any argument from me, I won’t be judging you. I think we should all enjoy them, while we still can.
Of course, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites anglers and others interested in fisheries management in the Duluth area to comment on fisheries management plans for several waterbodies through March 15, 2022.
The DNR uses fisheries management plans to identify specific management activities planned for designated lakes and streams over the next five to 20 years. The plans include background information such as water chemistry characteristics, water temperature information, species presence, stocking, regulations, and historic catch rates from previous fisheries surveys.
The plans also can identify biological and social factors that might limit a fishery’s potential and seek to address these limiting factors by prescribing science-based management tools when biologically, fiscally, and socially appropriate.
Comments and suggestions from the public are important for planning and evaluating the success of activities laid out in management plans.
Fisheries information and management activities are being updated for the following lakes and streams in Carlton County.
Carlton County waters:
Comments and suggestions for managing other lakes and streams in the Duluth work area are welcome at any time and will be considered when those plans are due for review. Contact: Deserae Hendrickson, Duluth Area Fisheries manager, 218-302-3266.
The draft plan is also available on the DNR Duluth area fisheries page (mndnr.gov/areas/fisheries/duluth/index.html).
"Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is this Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 through Monday, Jan. 17, 2022
During the weekend, Minnesota residents can go ice fishing for free if they are fishing with a child 15 years old or younger. Minnesotans 15 years old or younger don’t need fishing licenses any time of the year.
“Ice fishing is lots of fun for kids and adults alike. There’s nothing quite like making your way onto a frozen lake, drilling a hole through the ice and catching fish,” said Benji Kohn, volunteer mentor program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “If you’re interested in giving ice fishing a try, learning the basics is really doable. We have helpful information on our website to get you started.”
Check the DNR’s learn to ice fish page (dnr.state.mn.us/gofishing/learn-ice-fish.html) for more information about ice fishing.
Additionally, anyone interested in learning about ice fishing for panfish is invited to a free DNR webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022 at noon. Scott Mackenthun, a DNR area fisheries supervisor, will discuss tips and techniques anglers can use to have fun catching sunfish, crappie and perch. Registration is required. More information, including how to register, is available on the DNR outdoor skills and stewardship page (dnr.state.mn.us/fishwildlife/outreach).
Ice conditions vary and there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice. Always check local ice conditions before heading out to a lake or river. Visit the DNR ice safety page (mndnr.gov/icesafety) for ice safety guidelines."
"An angler caught a muskellunge weighing 55 pounds, 14 ounces, from Mille Lacs Lake that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has certified as a weight-based state record. The previous record was a 54-pound muskie caught from Lake Winnibigoshish in 1957. Although news of the fish has spread quickly in the news and social media, a record is not official until the certification process is complete.
Nolan Sprengeler caught the muskie on Nov. 22, with friends Kevin Kray and Zack Skoglund. Their plan was to fish the afternoon until after moonrise, which was about 8 p.m. After some delay due to low water and frozen water at accesses, they eventually broke some ice to get Sprengeler’s boat in the water after sunset.
“On our last spot of the evening at about 9 p.m., I felt a tap on the end of my line. I fought the fish to the boat and Kevin Kray netted it for me. The fish measured 57.75 inches by 29 inches,” Sprengeler said. “After trying to revive the fish for about an hour we realized she wasn’t going to make it. We made the decision to bring the fish in to get weighed on a certified scale.”
Sprengeler brought the fish to be weighed on a certified scale with witnesses the next morning, had it identified at a DNR Fisheries office, and then dropped off his catch with a taxidermist.
The DNR announces new state records in news releases, on social media and on the DNR website. Find current records and guidelines for each type of state record at mndnr.gov/recordfish." 200
"Ice anglers on Mille Lacs and Upper Red lakes can harvest walleye on both lakes this winter season.
A four-walleye bag limit, with only one walleye longer than 17 inches allowed, went into effect on Upper Red Lake on Monday, Nov. 1.
Effective Wednesday, Dec. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, winter anglers on Mille Lacs may keep one walleye between 21-23 inches or one fish longer than 28 inches.
The new regulation on Upper Red increases the possession limit from the three-fish limit that was in place during the 2020-2021 winter season and 2021 open water season, when mature walleye were lower in abundance. Results of this fall’s walleye population assessment showed a wide range of sizes with an abundance of mature spawning walleye, which allowed the more generous bag limit while also creating conditions that are favorable for the survival of upcoming walleye year classes.
This is the sixth consecutive year of winter walleye harvest on Mille Lacs, where winter regulations are set after completion of the annual fall netting assessment. Results from 2021 showed that the walleye population has declined from recent years but remains above population lows seen from 2012 to 2016.
Mille Lacs Lake winter regulations also reduce the possession limit for cisco (tullibee) from 10 to five and forbid the harvest of burbot (eelpout).
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s website offers regulation Information on both lakes - Upper Red Lake and Mille Lacs Lake." 1103 200 300
"Minnesota’s popular warm weather stream trout season opens Saturday, April 17, 2021 with quality fishing opportunities in every region of the state. Brook trout and splake fishing also open April 17, 2021 on Lake Superior and its tributary streams.
Minnesota has some excellent trout fishing, and anglers help pay for trout habitat and access improvements with their fishing licenses and trout stamps. Anglers fishing on designated trout waters must have a trout stamp validation in addition to an angling license.
Use new DNR StreamFinder tool to find places to fish. Whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced trout angler, the DNR has new information on Minnesota’s trout streams and lakes available on its website.
Modeled after the DNR’s popular LakeFinder tool, StreamFinder provides anglers with a description, species list, regulations and access information for trout streams throughout Minnesota. Anglers also will find helpful learning guides and fishing tips tailored to each of Minnesota's six trout fishing regions. More details: Go to the >> MN DNR Trout Fishing Page
"Installing a fish finder is a manageable DIY job as long as you have a little know-how and some essential tools. And even if you're not up for the job, knowing what a proper installation looks like allows you to assess and troubleshoot your setup. Professional boat rigger Andy Kratochvil of Fishlectronics walks us through a detailed step-by-step fish finder installation covering everything from the initial unboxing and parts layout, transducer placement and mounting, to wiring up the head unit.
Although the featured graph is a Humminbird SOLIX, Andy's tips and tricks are aimed squarely at making your install smooth and technically correct regardless of your fish finder's make, model, new or used. He starts by ..." View Video and Learn More >> How to Install a Fish Finder | Pro Tips and Tricks for All Models
Early-season walleye anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be able to keep one walleye 21-23 inches long or one longer than 28 inches. Summer will bring catch-and-release walleye fishing, with a mid-season closure, before the potential for a one-fish limit returns in the fall.
“Lower walleye harvest this winter is allowing us to offer some open-water walleye harvest this year,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We’re glad Mille Lacs anglers will have the chance to keep a walleye on opening weekend and Memorial Day weekend — two of the most popular times to fish during the year. We also hope to be able to allow some harvest this fall.”
The one-fish walleye limit will be in place from Saturday, May 15, through Monday, May 31. Walleye fishing will be catch-and-release from Tuesday, June 1, through Wednesday, June 30. A two-week closure — implemented to reduce hooking mortality — will be in place from Thursday, July 1, through Thursday, July 15. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will resume on Friday, July 16, and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 15.
After opening weekend, fishing hours on Mille Lacs Lake will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all species. Beginning Saturday, June 5, muskellunge and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches can fish after 10 p.m.
The one-fish walleye limit is scheduled to resume Thursday, Sept. 16, through Tuesday, Nov. 30. During the late season, the DNR also will allow anglers to fish from 6 a.m. to midnight.
“Our projections strongly suggest that fall harvest can occur,” Parsons said. “However, predicting fishing pressure, catch rates and weather involves some uncertainty so we want people to recognize that the fall harvest will depend on how much of the state’s 2021 walleye allocation remains as we approach September. As always, we will monitor the factors that determine the state’s walleye take throughout the open water season.”
The state and the eight Chippewa bands that have treaty fishing rights agreed Mille Lacs could sustain a state harvest of up to 87,800 pounds of walleye this year, unchanged from 2020. During the 2020 season, state-licensed anglers took 66,748 pounds and tribal fishing took 33,113 pounds.
This year’s winter walleye harvest was about 16,000 pounds, about half of what it was in 2020. Lower catch rates for anglers, combined with fewer people fishing, caused harvest to return to normal levels after a big spike last year. That drop in walleye take gave the DNR more flexibility to implement a one-fish limit during the early season and plan one for the late season.
Even with the drop in winter harvest, a two-week closure during what’s normally one of the hottest times of the summer remains necessary to protect walleye. As water temperature increases, so does hooking mortality — the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released. Protecting walleye during this vulnerable period can allow for many weeks of harvest during cooler times of the year.
To help avoid incidental catch of walleye during the two-week closure, fishing for any species with certain kinds of bait will be restricted. Anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge can use sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. But anglers targeting other fish may not use live, dead, preserved or parts of minnows, night crawlers, worms, leeches or crayfish.
“Our goal with these regulations is to meet the state’s treaty obligations while also providing the best possible experience for anglers, recognizing that fishing and the anglers it brings are economically important to the Mille Lacs Lake area,” Parsons said.
More information about fishing regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, ongoing DNR management and research, citizen engagement, and Mille Lacs-area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website.
The new regulations lower limits on specific waters as part of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources initiative to protect and improve sunfish sizes. These changes are in response to angler-driven concerns over the declining sizes of sunfish in Minnesota.
“Robust public input and support helped us move forward with the Quality Sunfish Initiative. We had more than 3,700 comments and over 85% of them were in favor of trying to improve sunfish sizes,” said Dave Weitzel, Grand Rapids area fisheries supervisor. “It’s clear Minnesota anglers treasure sunfish and want to make sure we have lots of large sunfish in our lakes.”
The new regulations only modify daily limits on the affected waterbodies. Anglers can only keep the prescribed number of fish per day from the water but can return the next day for another limit as long as they don’t exceed the statewide inland water possession limit of 20 sunfish per angler.
The new sunfish regulations only include inland waters of Minnesota. Specifically, 44 waters will have a new daily limit of five sunfish, 31 will have a limit of 10 sunfish, 17 will have a limit of five sunfish and five crappie, and two will have a limit of 10 sunfish and five crappies.
In addition to the new waters, there are 57 waters that previously had reduced limits for sunfish and these regulations remain in effect.
“We’ve evaluated previous special sunfish regulations and found that reducing harvest can indeed produce large sunfish,” Weitzel said. “Sunfish grow slowly—about an inch per year—so a large sunfish can be more than a decade old. It’s critical to protect these large fish from excessive harvest because they aren’t easily replaced.”
Sunfish spawn in large nesting colonies during the spring and early summer. Parental male sunfish build and defend nests. Females will select a male, lay eggs, and leave the eggs for the male to protect and fan with his fins. These nest-building male sunfish play an important role in repopulation, with the largest sunfish often getting the best spawning sites.
When anglers keep the largest sunfish, the remaining small males don’t need to compete with larger males to spawn. Once the larger males are gone, the smaller males devote less energy to growing. Instead, they devote energy to spawning at younger ages and smaller sizes.
Minnesota fishing regulations use sunfish as the generic name for bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish, longear, warmouth and their hybrids. More about sunfish biology and the Quality Sunfish Initiative is available on the DNR website.
Other fishing regulation changes in the 2021 regulations book include new experimental regulations on Island Lake Reservoir near Duluth. On this lake, which has abundant but very small walleye, fisheries managers aim to increase the size of walleye by increasing the possession limit and applying a protective slot limit.
New experimental lake trout regulations also are being implemented in Yawkey, Sagamore, Pennington and Mahnomen lakes. These mine pit lakes in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area have the potential to support naturally reproducing lake trout populations. Anglers there will be limited to harvesting one lake trout, which must be more than 20 inches, from each water.
Experimental regulations mean that the regulation is temporary. Fisheries managers must then evaluate the regulation to determine whether it had the intended effect, usually after 10 years.
The 2021 Minnesota fishing regulations are available online and anywhere Minnesota fishing licenses are sold. The new sunfish regulations are found in the special regulations that begin on page 38 of the booklet.
Anglers will find a variety of changes in the 2020 Minnesota fishing regulations booklet, including new possession and length limits on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters of the Mississippi River. This is the first comprehensive update of regulations on the Mississippi River border waters in nearly 70 years.
The new border waters possession and length limits for most gamefish species went into effect March 1, and were developed based on decades of biological data, as well as substantial public input during 2018 and 2019.
“We've heard positive feedback about the changes from anglers who care a great deal about sustaining the high quality fish populations and the fishing opportunities on these Mississippi River border waters,” said Kevin Stauffer, the Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor in Lake City.
The new regulations for the Mississippi River border waters and Lake Pepin include lower possession limits, and changes to some length limits, for walleye and sauger, northern pike, channel and flathead catfish, shovelnose sturgeon, crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, and white and yellow bass.
The changes are proactive measures that will help both states manage the effects that changing river conditions, invasive species and increased angling effectiveness have on fish. Wisconsin has approved identical regulations that will go into effect April 1. Some examples include:
With the exception of minimum size limits for bass (14 inches) and walleye (15 inches) implemented in 1990, possession and size restrictions for gamefish on the Minnesota and Wisconsin border waters of the Mississippi River had been largely unchanged for the last seven decades.
Special regulations modified for several Minnesota lakes
Dropped Special Regulations
The new 2020 Minnesota fishing regulations are available online and anywhere Minnesota fishing licenses are sold.
All too often, anglers encounter lakes that have enormous populations of stunted Pike where catching a "quality fish" could earn you a lifetime achievement award. Try to swim a lure through these legions of small Pike and it’s easy to see how they would raise the ire of anyone hoping to attract the attention of more worthy combatants.
Snakes, scissors bills, slimes and a host of other even less flattering nicknames get thrown around on nearly every fishing trip.
But in my travels as a full time fishing guide, I have seen strange transformations occur whenever someone catches ..." Read >> The Quest For Quality Pike
Q) When I'm fishing with kids, can they have their own limit of fish in addition to mine?
A) Nonresidents age 16 and older are required to have an appropriate fishing license while angling. Non residents under age 16 do not need a license if the parent or guardian is licensed. Children of an adult who has a Minnesota Nonresident Family License may possess their own limit of fish.
However, if the adult has only an Individual License or if the parents have a Husband and Wife License, then the child’s fish are included in the adult’s limit. Nonresidents under age 16 may purchase a nonresident youth license and possess their own limit of fish.
Minnesota Residents under age 16 may take fish without a license. The statute does not state explicitly that under age residents my possess their own limit of fish. But the legislators use of the phrase "take fish" implies that the kids are entitled to their own limit.
*See a complete, Printable PDF >> Minnesota Statutes 97A.451 License Requirements and Exemptions Relating To Age
"The Early Bird Fishing Guide" Jeff Sundin - Fishing Blue Books, LLC 715 Byington Ave, LaPrairie, MN 55744 218-245-9858
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