Minnesota, Wisconsin propose fishing regulation changes on Mississippi

Natural resource departments in Minnesota and Wisconsin will host three public open houses in November to discuss proposed changes to bag and size limits for gamefish on the Mississippi River between Hastings, Minn., and the Iowa border.
The public meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. as follows:
* Nov. 13, Red Wing Environmental Learning Center, 442 Guernsey Lane, Red Wing, Minn.
* Nov. 14, Winona Middle School, 1570 Homer Rd., Winona, Minn.
* Nov. 15, State Office Building, 3550 Mormon Coulee Rd., La Crosse, Wis.
The two DNRs started gathering input related to existing regulations for gamefish on the Mississippi River that runs between the two states earlier this year with a series of five public meetings and an online questionnaire. Out of that feedback, they have crafted a number of proposals, including:
* Reducing the daily bag limit for sunfish, crappie and perch from 25 for each species to 10 or 15.
* Reducing the combined daily bag limit for walleye and sauger from six to four, with one over 20 inches, and an option to further reduce the bag limit for sauger in Pools 5 through 9; the existing 15-inch minimum length for walleye would remain.
* No changes are being proposed for regulations on largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Minnesota and Wisconsin are working together on the package of changes with an eye toward maintaining consistent regulations on the Mississippi River flowing between the two states. Many of the regulations there have not been changed in decades. Complete details of the proposed changes can be found online at bit.ly/LakeCityAreaFisheriesMN.
The open house meetings will consist of several stations highlighting fisheries data and proposed rule changes for different species. No formal presentations will be provided, but information will be displayed on poster boards and staff from Minnesota and Wisconsin DNRs will be available for questions and discussion. Those interested in the regulation proposals are invited to come any time during the two-hour meetings. An online survey will be available for people unable to attend one of the open houses. Comments and completed questionnaires on the regulation proposals will be accepted through Nov. 30.
Feedback will be used to assemble a final recommendation on regulation changes. The earliest any new regulations might go into effect would be March 2020, and there will be additional opportunities for public review and input in both states prior to any final decisions.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Lake Mille Lacs winter anglers make keep 1 walleye starting Dec. 1

Winter anglers on Lake Mille Lacs will again enjoy a walleye harvest this winter for the third season in a row, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Similar to last season, anglers will be allowed to keep walleye on Mille Lacs starting Saturday, Dec. 1, with no bait restrictions and a limit of one walleye between 21-23 inches, or one fish over 28 inches.
Winter regulations are set after completion of the DNR's annual fall gill net assessment on Mille Lacs. In 2018, this assessment was supplemented by a population estimate, in which the DNR catches fish in the spring, marks them, and later recaptures them. While studies indicate the walleye population on Mille Lacs is increasing, some year classes remain below normal or average.
“It’s good news that anglers will be able to harvest walleye again this winter,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “We’re also encouraged to see evidence that our conservative approach to Mille Lacs is paying off to the point that we’re seeing population increases on this renowned fishing lake.”
According to the results of the 2018 population estimate, the abundance of walleye 14 inches and longer in the lake was 727,000 fish. This is up significantly from the population estimates in 2013 and 2014, both of which were around 250,000 fish.
The fall gill net assessment also showed that the total pounds of mature walleye sampled increased significantly from 18.9 pounds per net last year to 27.7 pounds per net this year, mostly due to an increase in mature females. Because of this result, the DNR selected a regulation that allows anglers to keep walleye from 21-23 inches, which focuses the harvest on mature female fish.
The DNR believes the population of mature female walleye can sustain harvest because their numbers are at sufficient levels to ensure good production of fry (baby walleye) in the spring.

2013 fish still strong, but stronger year classes needed
While hopeful for a continued increase, the DNR is taking a cautious approach to interpreting the results of the population estimates. The 2013 year class (or fish hatched that year) continues to dominate the population, accounting for about 40 percent of the fish caught, but year classes hatched since 2013 show mixed results.
The 2014 and 2015 year classes remain below normal. The 2016 year class, which is now 13-15 inches in length, appears close to average compared to the last 15 years. This is significant because if it survives it will only be the second average-or-above year class since 2008. The 2017 year class, now between 9 and 12 inches in length, was well represented in the gill nets, but it’s too early to tell whether these fish will comprise an above average year class.
“Over time we want to let anglers keep more fish, but it is critical that population assessments continue to show surviving and self-sustaining year classes of walleye,” said Brad Parsons, DNR fisheries chief. “We’ve seen promising year classes in past years fail to survive to older ages. Opening up additional harvest too fast or too soon could jeopardize the population increases we’re seeing.”
The fall assessment also examines food abundance for walleye and walleye health. Perch and tullibee are the primary food source for Mille Lacs’ walleye. Perch from 0 to 2 years old were caught in low numbers, and the number of young-of-year tullibee caught also was low. Walleye condition or “plumpness” reflects these results and remained lower than recent averages.
Low forage levels usually mean the walleye bite is good because there is less food available for fish to eat, making an angler’s bait all the more attractive.
“We expect the walleye bite to be quite good on Mille Lacs this winter, which means ice anglers may experience a lot of fishing action out on the lake,” Parsons said.
Complete winter regulation information for Mille Lacs is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR seeking input on Leech Lake proposed walleye regulation change

A proposed walleye regulation change on Leech Lake would allow anglers more opportunities to keep walleye beginning when the 2019 open water fishing season opens.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking input on the change at an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 24, at the Walker Area Community Center.
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.
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.”
Carl Pedersen, the DNR large lake specialist on Leech Lake, said 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,” Pedersen said. “Protective fishing regulations combined with very consistent production of year classes over the past 10 years have put us in a very good position.”
If future fisheries assessments indicate harvest should be reduced, the DNR anticipates revisiting the protected slot limit at that time.
At the meeting, there will not be a formal presentation but DNR staff will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the proposed regulation with individuals who attend. Following the meeting, comments will be accepted through Friday, 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Anglers who can’t make the meeting in Walker can attend an open house about that and other regulation proposals from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the DNR headquarters in St. Paul, 500 Lafayette Road. No formal presentations will be made at the open house.
More information on fishing regulations can be found on the DNR website atmndnr.gov/fishing.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Anglers can give input Minnesota-South Dakota border waters

Anglers are encouraged to comment on a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposal to open the South Dakota-Minnesota border waters to continuous angling for walleye, bass and northern pike beginning in the spring of 2019.  
The South Dakota-Minnesota border waters are Big Stone, Traverse, Hendricks and Mud lakes, and the Bois de Sioux and Mustinka rivers.
“Biologists from both states agree that removing the closed season will provide more springtime fishing opportunities without negatively impacting fish populations,” said Chris Domeier, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Ortonville.
A continuous fishing season on the Minnesota-South Dakota border waters also would align with the existing continuous fishing seasons Minnesota has on border waters with North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
A public comment period began on Sept. 24, and continues through Monday, Oct. 29. The DNR is using an expedited rule-making procedure to make these changes effective by March 2019 to coincide with a similar regulation change on South Dakota’s border waters.
The pubic may comment by linking to the DNR rule-making webpage located at http://bit.ly/MN-SD-BorderWatersInput, or comments can be sent to Al Stevens, 500 Lafayette Rd, St. Paul, MN 55155, or emailed to him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Grants available to help introduce Wisconsin residents to fishing

MADISON - A total of $75,000 in grants are now available under a new Department of Natural Resources initiative aimed at helping local governments, organizations and others recruit new anglers, particularly adult women and other groups under-represented in the activity.
The Angler Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (Angler R3) grant program will provide financial assistance to local governments, organizations and others who conduct Angler R3 programs and activities in Wisconsin.
"This is a brand new opportunity that groups can use to shore up our angling heritage in Wisconsin," says Keith Warnke, R3 team leader.
The DNR will award a total of $75,000 during this first grant cycle in 2018. The maximum award amount for each project will be $10,000. These grants will be administered as a reimbursement program and the DNR plans to accept grant applications only in even numbered years, according to Jill Sunderland, Angler (R3) Grant Manager.
Tribes, municipalities, schools, community-based organizations, conservation organizations, individuals and local food organizations are among the entities eligible to apply for the grants.
The deadline for applying electronically is Oct. 15. Find information about grant eligibility and application materials on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching for  Angler Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Grant Program.
Wisconsin license sales are growing but not immune to national leisure-time trends
The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and partners, including state agencies like DNR, have embarked on an effort to grow participation to 60 million anglers in 60 months, by following recommendations for angler Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) efforts.
More than twice as many Wisconsin adult residents fish - about 20 percent - as the national average and Wisconsin's fishing license sales have increased over the past 15 years and now stand at about 1.4 million, according to a recent DNR study,
However, Wisconsin faces the same national trends of younger people spending less time outdoors, and concerns that there will not be enough new anglers in the future to replace anglers who discontinue participation as they age.
Justine Hasz, Wisconsin's fisheries director, says the new grant program builds off the DNR's Fishing for Dinner program and is part of the 60 for 60 initiative led by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation to increase the number of anglers nationwide to 60 million by 2021. The DNR's Fishing for Dinner program is aimed at adults and combines classroom learning, fishing with veteran anglers, and learning how to prepare their catch.
"We're looking at new, innovative ways to introduce people and recruit them into fishing, especially people in the 18- to 35-year-old group," she says. "We're very excited to be offering our first grants and see people's ideas for bringing more people into this fun, family-friendly activity."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Extended inland trout season offers more opportunities for anglers

MADISON - Even in areas hit with historic flooding this August, Wisconsin trout populations are holding strong and anglers can expect good opportunities for fishing.
As water levels return to more normal levels, anglers can enjoy the benefits of the harvest season running through Oct. 15.
Fish biologists conducting fall surveys to assess trout populations in streams statewide are finding strong adult fish populations.
"The past 10 days of dry weather have allowed stream water levels to lower and become clearer, leading to some good fishing through the remainder of the season," says Kirk Olson, fisheries biologist for Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties.
"Anglers will probably notice that trout in the area are very robust as fish have gorged on prey that washed into the stream during the flood. Recent fishing outings on area streams have brought many hungry trout to hand on both spinners and sub-surface flies."
The inland trout season runs through 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 15, giving anglers for the third year an extra two weeks on most waters except as noted in the "Specific Waters by County" section of the Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations, 2018-2019. The open season closes Sept. 30, for streams flowing into Lake Superior from their mouths to the first impassable permanent barrier, unless noted in the Specific Waters section.
Justin Haglund, fisheries biologist for Iowa and Richland counties, says fishing is still going strong in Iowa County and that Richland County streams, while hit hard by flooding, are now at near normal levels.
"If there is continued dry weather over the next few weeks this will provide good opportunities for fishing throughout the southwest region," he says.
Survey results on the Tomorrow and Plover rivers in central Wisconsin earlier this month, as well as on small streams like Comet Creek, suggest good fishing opportunities on a variety of waters, says Tim Parks, fisheries biologist for Marathon and Portage counties.
Not only are anglers more likely to see larger fish at this time of year, as the fish move upstream toward spawning grounds, but the change to darker colors, particularly for male fish, allows anglers to see some beautiful fish in a variety of places.
"I know a lot of anglers have their sweet spots, but my message is to be adventurous," he says. "Take a roll of the dice. Hit one of the small streams and you'll be surprised. There's places where we were surveying this last month where we found fish either larger or more abundant than we expected.
Joanna Griffin, trout team coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources DNR's trout team, says trout anglers planning their fall fishing trips will want to check out DNR's online trout tool beforehand and even consult this mobile tool while fishing.
T.R.O.U.T. stands for Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool, and it shows anglers where to access streams and where to park, displays habitat projects around the state, and provides on-the-go mobile access to trout stream regulations.
Anglers wanting a printed map can use the tool to find the water they want and then print off a copy, or anglers can also print off county maps showing Wisconsin's classified trout streams. These PDFs will not have regulations public lands and fishing easements noted on them.
Current trout fishing forecasts from fisheries biologists are available for waters in the following counties: Chippewa, Crawford, Dane, Dunn, Eau Claire, Green, Iowa, La Crosse, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Pepin, Portage, Richland, Rock, Vernon and Waushara. Other more general forecasts and survey results are found in the trout section of the 2018 Wisconsin Fishing Report, starting bottom of page 15.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR seeks input on Lake of the Woods, Rainy River regulation changes

Angling regulations that would change on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in northern Minnesota are the topic of an open house for the public to give input on the proposals from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Oct. 8, at Lake of the Woods School.
The changes under consideration by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources would reduce the number of walleye and sauger allowed to be kept in the winter on the lake, and on the river allow only catch-and-release fishing for those fish in the spring. The changes would take effect on March 1, 2019.

Winter walleye and sauger proposal
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 limit would remain in effect.
The current winter regulation from Dec. 1 to April 14 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.
DNR Baudette area fisheries supervisor Phil Talmage said expanding winter pressure has resulted in sauger harvest exceeding management objectives with 80 percent of the sauger harvest coming in the winter season.
Rainy River spring season proposal
The proposed regulation change is a catch-and-release season that would be in effect March 1 to April 14 on the Rainy River and Fourmile Bay. Increasing pressure and harvest focused on pre-spawn male walleye have impacted the spawning population in the Rainy River.
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 larger.
This regulation would maintain the spring sport fishery while protecting the long-term sustainability of the Rainy River spawning population and reducing 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,” Talmage said. “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.”
There will be a short presentation at the open house. Following the meeting, comments will be accepted through Thursday, Oct. 18. Those not attending the meeting can provide comments by calling the Baudette area fisheries office at 218-634-2522 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Anglers who can’t make the meeting in Baudette can attend an open house about that and other regulation proposals from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the DNR headquarters in St. Paul, 500 Lafayette Road.
More information on fishing regulations can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/fishing.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR