New fishing regulations will be enacted Dec. 1 to protect larger, spawning-aged walleyes in Fish Lake in St. Louis County, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The regulation will include a harvest slot of 13- to 17-inches and a reduced bag limit of three walleyes.

Over the past year, a stakeholder committee has been meeting to review data on the recent changes in the fishery and habitat within Fish Lake Reservoir. Specifically, walleye abundance has declined, while abundance of bass, bluegill, crappie and northern pike has increased. During this same timeframe, many areas of the lake have seen significant increases in aquatic vegetation.

“The goal of the committee was to help develop management recommendations by combining DNR field staff expertise with a structured decision making process that allowed citizen input,” said Deserae Hendrickson, supervisor, DNR’s Duluth area fisheries. “One of the committee’s biggest concerns was the decline in abundance of walleye, so many of their recommendations focused on the best approach to identifying causes and preventing further declines in walleye abundance.”

“This special regulation is designed to protect the larger spawning stock as well as younger fish entering the fishery,” Hendrickson said. “The abundance of larger fish more than 17 inches has not changed much, but walleye less than 17 inches have seen significant declines.”

In order to achieve this protection sooner, the DNR agreed to adopt an expedited emergency game and fish rule to allow the regulation to go into effect on Dec. 1. The normal regulation setting process will still occur in 2013, which will include additional public input opportunities, with potential for permanent implementation in 2014.

Regulation signs will be posted on Dec. 1 at accesses on Fish Lake, and the expedited regulation will remain in effect until the permanent regulation review and input process is complete.

People who would like to discuss this regulation, or be notified directly when the public meetings are scheduled, should contact Deserae Hendrickson by phone at 218-525-0853, ext. 201, or by email at deserae.hendrickson@state.mn.us.

Logo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

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