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DNR seeks comments on fisheries rules

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Interested citizens have until Monday, Feb. 11, to comment on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plans to provide more angler opportunity for trout and sturgeon, and protect flathead catfish during winter and to make changes to some other fisheries rules.

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For trout, DNR is considering rules that:

• Simplify trout fishing regulations in southeastern Minnesota by dropping the barbless hook restriction; research has demonstrated that hooking mortality is not significantly greater with a barb.

• Extend the end of the fall catch-and-release season on all designated trout streams in southeastern Minnesota from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15.

• Allow catch-and-release angling on designated trout streams in some southeastern Minnesota state parks from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31.

• Open some lakes in Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard counties to winter trout fishing.

Prompted by successful recovery efforts of the sturgeon populations in the Red, Rainy, St. Croix and St. Louis rivers, DNR is planning to propose that a catch-and-release sturgeon season be implemented year-round.

Flathead catfish angling and spearing would be closed in winter to protect this trophy species. Because it takes many years for flathead to grow to trophy size of 50 pounds or more, these fish easily could be overharvested when lethargic.

Other changes would place some restrictions on smelt harvest in Pine County's Grindstone Lake and implement additional whitefish netting restrictions.

Comments, questions and requests for more information and the proposals should be directed to Linda Erickson-Eastwood at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, 55155-4020. Citizens also may call 651-259-5206.

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