Special sunfish regulations open house meetings set

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold an open house to collect public comments and share information on proposed sunfish regulation changes for Shields Lake in Rice County.
The DNR section of Fisheries will hold an in-person open house in Rice County and one open house in the Twin Cities metro area to cover all proposals as part of the statutory process.
The purpose of the proposed change is to protect and improve sunfish angling and size.
If adopted, the special regulation will reduce the daily limit for sunfish on Shields Lake from 20 to 5.
The open house is Thursday, Oct. 14 from 6-7 p.m. at the Faribault Community Center’s Peterson Room located at 15 W. Division St. in Faribault.
The statewide open house is Tuesday, Oct. 5 from noon-4 p.m. at the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
If adopted, the special regulation will go into effect March 1, 2022.
Comments can also be made online by visiting mndnr.gov/sunfish at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/sunfish/index.html and taking the online survey at https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=RrAU68QkGUWPJricIVmCjB6qVAV2knRGp1e6e8mKIzhUNTBUWkk0MElIV0VDMU1aT1VCM0pIRDM5Mi4u.
Calls to the Waterville area fisheries office will be accepted at 507-497-1820, and emailed comments can be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR certifies new catch-and-release state record northern pike

Anglers over the summer caught and released a new Minnesota state record northern pike and tied the record for muskellunge.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources certified the state catch-and-release record northern pike, a 46 1/4-inch fish (pictured) caught June 19 on Basswood Lake by Brecken Kobylecky, a 15-year-old from Geneva, Ill. The previous record was a 45 1/4-inch northern pike caught on the Rainy River in 2018.
The record pike was the biggest fish Kobylecky had ever caught. He was fishing with an Ely-based fishing guide and with about 10 minutes left of their final day fishing, they were trolling for pike.
“We hooked onto a huge pike that was barely hooked, and could hardly land it due to the sheer size and weight of the fish,” Kobylecky said.
Once the fish was in the boat, they carefully took a few photos and measured the pike before releasing the fish back to the open water.
“The whole experience went by in a flash but it was an experience of a lifetime I'll never forget,” Kobylecky said.
The DNR also certified a 57 1/4-inch muskie caught July 23 on Lake Vermilion by Todd Kirby of Hudson, Wis., that tied a 2019 muskie also caught on Lake Vermilion.
With two Vermilion Lake muskies now tied for the state record, this well-known water body continues to prove itself as a top muskie fishing destination. Kirby had fished the lake a handful of times and was familiar with small pockets that muskie seem to inhabit.
“That Friday night we were up against the weather. There was a huge storm front moving through creating extremely unstable conditions. The humidity was high, and storm clouds were building. It was one of those nights that the fish seemed to be super active, our boat had multiple chases, one resulting in a 48-inch fish in the net - at that time my personal best,” Kirby said.
They continued fishing into the night and around 10:30 p.m. he had a large “thud” hit his line hard when his bait was no more than 15 yards from the boat.
“I compared it to reeling in a large moving ‘log’ and after a few dark splashes, she was in the net. Everything just happened so fast!” Kirby said.
Kirby and fishing partners, John and Will Gavic, thought the fish looked 50 inches and were amazed seeing they caught a fish even longer, and one that would earn state record status.
“My bait just so happened to be the one that she ate, but that whole night couldn’t have been possible without the help of John Gavic and Will Gavic. Muskie fishing is a team effort, and when you have a good team on your side, landing a fish of that caliber creates a memory of a lifetime,” Kirby said.
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.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Lake sturgeon registration stations get a change

Inland hook and line sturgeon season opens on certain waters this Saturday, Sept. 4, and with it is a change.
If an angler catches a lake sturgeon that they wish to harvest, they must have already purchased an inland or boundary water sturgeon harvest tag and immediately validate that tag. Harvested sturgeon must be registered at designated registration stations which are generally located near waters open to sturgeon fishing. The angler must register the fish before 6 p.m. the day after the fish was harvested.
There has been a change to the list of lower Wisconsin River registration stations. McFarlane’s True Value in Sauk City is no longer registering sturgeon. Instead, Wilderness Fish and Game will be registering fish. Details are:
Wilderness Fish and Game
532 Water St. Sauk City, WI 53583
(608) 643-5229
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Sat 8am-5pm; Sun 9am-5pm

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Iowa's Hamann wins B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional

Iowa’s Adam Hamann played it safe the first two days of the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional on the Upper Mississippi River, leaving his primary area after filling his limit and saving the fish he thought were still there for later.
On Championship Friday, the Prairie Du Chien native proved he had saved the best for last, landing an 18-pound, 7-ounce bag to claim the victory with a three-day total of 47-6, earning a $5,000 check from Ranger and a berth in the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship scheduled for Nov. 3-5 on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La.   
“I’d like to say I think it is because I saved some fish,” Hamann said. “The first two days I really saved them and I cracked on them today. We stayed in our starting spot for a long time today.
“Me and my co-angler let 15 fish over 3 pounds go today. It was a magical day. With the overcast sky and the water getting cleaner every day, it just kept getting better and better.”
Hamann is a Mississippi River native and mostly fishes Pool 10 around his hometown, but does not have as much experience in the La Crosse section of the river. Even still, he was worried that his knowledge of the river would hurt him more than it would help.
“I’m a Mississippi River guy through and through,” Hamann said. “It’s huge. I talked about it all year with my buddies, the local curse is usually a thing. That kind of scared me the whole time. Trying to compete on your home water can really hurt you a lot. It didn’t this time and it worked out in my favor.”
With 13-12 on Day 1, Hamann landed in eighth before jumping to third on the second day with 15-3. After two days of sunny, mild conditions, a cold front brought clouds, rain and wind to the area on Friday, which ended up helping Hamann’s bite.
“They were just cruising on a flat and they never came off the flat because of the colder weather,” he said. “They stayed up there and were feeding all day and there was no reason for them to go back to deeper water.”
After leading the first two days of the tournament, Minnesota native Richard Lindgren fell to second place with a three-day total of 42-3. He landed just three fish for 10-2 on the final day.
Originally an alternate for the Minnesota team, Lindgren said he is happy to be making his third trip to the Nation Championship.
“I got my stuff together in 24 hours' notice and made it down here. Put in three super long days of practice and I wasn’t on a lot, but I saw just enough,” the Lakeville, Minn., native said. “The Minnesota team works together and the clues I got in the meeting along with what I saw in practice, I was able to unlock it in the tournament.”
Wisconsin angler Jim Barczak finished third with 41-0, catching 14-2 on Day 1 and 13-8 on Day 2.
Hamann’s magical day also lifted his nonboater Chizta Xiong to the nonboater title. With a three-bass limit weighing 9-10, the Minnesota angler increased his three-day total to 22-13.
Nebraska’s Brock Belik landed a 4-10 bass on the final day to earn the Big Bass of the Tournament award, earning $500. Fellow Nebraska angler Leray Anderson II won $250 for the same title on the nonboater side with a 4-11. Both anglers compete for the South Dakota team.
The top boater and nonboater from each state qualified for the Nation Championship to compete for one of three berths into the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.


Minnesota’s Lindgren atop B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional

Richard Lindgren missed being a member of the Minnesota State B.A.S.S. Nation team by 2 ounces. But his 11th-place finish during qualifying earned him the first alternate spot, and Lindgren said he stayed prepared all year in case someone on the team was unable to participate in the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional on the Upper Mississippi River.
Right before the rosters were to be finalized, the call came for Lindgren to step up and take a spot on the team. He’s already made the most of his opportunity, landing 15 pounds, 9 ounces to lead the 90-boat field after Day 1 in La Crosse on Wednesday.
The Lakeville, Minn., angler, who represented his state at the 2020 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship at Pickwick Lake with a 13th-place finish, holds an 11-ounce lead over Jason Hewitt from Iowa.
The bite has been tough for many anglers during the week on Pools 7, 8 and 9 on the Mississippi River, including Lindgren, who said he had a difficult practice.
“It was pretty rough and honestly, today, none of the spots where I had seen keeper fish (in practice) did I catch fish on today,” he said. “I ran new water and reacted to what the river was giving up. I don’t think I had a fish until 9 or 10 o’clock.”
Hewitt, meanwhile, calls the Mississippi River home and used his home-field advantage to catch 14-14 of primarily smallmouth.
Minnesota angler Connor Leagjeld and Michigan angler Greg Sochocki are tied for third with 14-12. Sochocki also landed the Big Bass of the day, a 4-8 largemouth.
Redford, Mich., angler Hunter Frederickson leads the co-angler side with a three-fish limit weighing 8-12. Ohio angler Michael O'Rourke, who is also competing for Team Michigan, is second with 7-15 and La Crosse native Brett Stanek is third with 7-11.
The Iowa state team caught 54 bass for 127-0 to take the lead in the team competition, while Minnesota claimed second with 45 bass that weighed 110-12. Wisconsin also cracked the 100-pound mark and is third with 106-14.
The full field will launch from Veterans Freedom Park starting at 6:15 a.m. Thursday for Day 2 and return for weigh-in at 2:15 p.m. The field will be cut to 20 boaters and 20 non-boaters after Day 2.
The top two boaters and co-anglers from each state after the final day will punch their tickets to the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship scheduled for Nov. 3-5 on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., to compete for one of three berths in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.


Lindgren keeps lead in B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional

With the help of two kicker smallmouth bass, Minnesota angler Richard Lindgren caught a mixed bag weighing 16 pounds, 8 ounces to increase his lead over the field in the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional on the Upper Mississippi River in La Crosse on Thursday.
His two-day total of 32-1 gives him just under a 2-pound advantage over Minnesota teammate Connor Leagjeld and more than a 3-pound lead over third-place angler Adam Hamann.
“I’m super excited. The main goal is for the team to win and to fish Nationals,” Lindgren said. “It’s going to be a shoot-out. (Leagjeld) has good fish. I’ve found some good fish. I’m stoked. I’d rather be leading than not leading, and I opened up the lead a little bit. It’s not insurmountable by any means, but I’d rather be up a couple of pounds than down a couple pounds for sure.”
After not catching a fish the first three hours on Day 1, Lindgren got off to a much better start Thursday, filling his limit within the first hour. From there, he was able to make several important culls and secure the biggest bag of the tournament so far.
“I ran the same rotation a little quicker this morning. There were a couple of things I skipped, but I caught fish in similar areas,” Lindgren said. “I mixed it up with both largemouth and smallmouth. I have a two-pronged approach which makes me feel better. Hopefully one of them maintains even if something changes on the river with the water level and the rain, wind and cooler temperatures tomorrow.”
Fluctuating water levels throughout the event have played a role for Lindgren - and on Thursday, the water dropped in some of the sloughs he fished which helped him achieve that early limit.
While he wasn’t surprised by the better largemouth bites, Lindgren said he hadn’t seen the big smallmouth bite until Thursday. His bag for the day included three largemouth, one smallmouth that weighed over 4 pounds and another smallmouth that he estimated to be 3 1/2.
Leagjeld improved on his Day 1 performance and landed five largemouth for 15-8 to jump from third to second with a two-day total of 30-4.
After landing in eighth on Day 1 with 13-12, Hamann, from Prairie Du Chien, Iowa, caught a mixed bag weighing 15-3 on Day 2 to jump into the Top 3 with 28-15.
Greg Sochocki from Michigan continues to hold the Big Bass of the Tournament lead with a 4-8 largemouth he caught on Day 1.
Dustin Drath from Coon Valley, Wis., took the non-boater lead, catching 8-14 on Day 2 to increase his two-day total to 15-12.
With five boaters in the Top 18 and four non-boaters in the Top 18, Iowa took home the team championship title with 100 total fishing weighing 236-2 and earned $5,625 from Ranger/Mercury. Wisconsin jumped into second place with 217-10 and took home $3,375, while Minnesota finished in third with 196-12 and received $2,250. 
The Top 18 boaters and 18 non-boaters overall, as well as the Top 2 boaters and non-boaters from each state who weren’t already in the Top 18, launch from Veterans Freedom Park on French Island at 6:15 a.m. for Championship Friday and return for weigh-in at 2:15 p.m.
The top boater and non-boater from each state after the final day earn berths in the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship scheduled Nov. 3-5 on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., to compete for one of three berths in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.


La Crosse to host B.A.S.S. Nation Regional Championship

September is one of the best times of the year to fish the Upper Mississippi River, according to Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bob Downey of Hudson, Wis.
So, when qualified anglers arrive for the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Regional Sept. 1-3, Downey expects plenty of bass to hit the scales.
“It is one of my favorite times of the year to be on the river,” Downey said. “I expect it to be a good tournament. You need to shoot for a 3-pound average or better.”
La Crosse has played host to plenty of major tournaments over the past decade, including Elite Series events in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2018 and a Basspro.com Bassmaster Open in 2019. The Elite Series will also return to La Crosse for the Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River Aug. 26-29, 2022.
For the, B.A.S.S. Nation event, anglers will have access to Pools 7, 8 and 9 during the event, which brings together teams from nine states.
So far in 2021, the Mississippi River has been as low as Downey has seen in years. Late summer rains could flip the script, but water levels and current flow will determine where the fish will set up.
“It is extremely low right now and it has been all year,” he said. “With it being really low, you’ll see largemouth closer to the main channel at times and smallmouth will move out towards the main channel.”
Both largemouth and smallmouth are plentiful throughout these three pools of the Mississippi River, and Downey said he would expect both species to play in this event.
“This time of year, it could be won with both,” he said. “Smallmouth on the river will generally win tournaments in the spring and fall. That’s not to say you can’t win one in the summer with them, but generally they are heaviest in the spring and then starting in late August through September and October.”
Downey said the smallmouth like to set up on the various wing dams in the system as well as sand drops and other current-related structures like islands. Top-water walking baits, poppers and Carolina rigs have historically produced around these areas. To win with smallmouth only, Downey said anglers will need to have a strong pattern.
“They move around. I call them ghost fish because every time I seem to find them in practice they aren’t there in the tournament,” Downey said. “That time of year, they become a little more consistent to the point where you can rely on them more.”
Meanwhile, the largemouth can be found in the abundant grass fields throughout the three eligible pools. Six different types of grass can be found in the fishery, including milfoil, eelgrass, lily pads and duckweed, making it a perfect situation for frogging, punching and possibly a swim jig.
“It is a phenomenal time of year for largemouth. The grass is as good as it is going to get all year,” Downey said.
Cut banks are also great areas to find both largemouth and smallmouth.
Anglers will launch from Veterans Freedom Park starting at 6:15 a.m. CT every day and return for weigh-in at 2:15. The field will be cut to 20 boaters and 20 non-boaters after Day 2. The top two boaters and co-anglers from each state will punch their ticket to the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship scheduled Nov. 3-5 on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., to compete for one of three berths into the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.