Northern pike regulations to change on 15 MN lakes, two in Becker Co.
Fifteen lakes in Minnesota will be posted soon with signs that indicate the current northern pike special regulation will end Tuesday, Nov. 1.
This change is the result of a new state law that limits the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to no more than 100 northern pike special or experimental regulation lakes and only allows for length-based rules.
"Currently, we are at 115 lakes with length-based regulations," said Al Stevens, fishing regulations coordinator for the DNR. "To comply with the new law, we are dropping regulations on 15 lakes where fisheries biologists believe the regulation is least likely to achieve its management goal or is a smaller lake connected to a larger lake that also has a special northern pike regulation."
The 15 lakes with special length-based regulations that will be dropped are Campbell in Beltrami County; Cotton and Big Floyd in Becker County; Louise in Cass County; Latoka in Douglas County; Caribou in St. Louis County; Scrapper, Haskell, Rice and Schoolhouse in Itasca County; North Branch Kawishiwi River, which is part of the Garden Lake chain, in Lake County; Ogechie in Mille Lacs County; Long and Crooked in Stearns County; and Little Sauk in Todd County.
These lakes will revert to the standard statewide northern pike regulation -- a three-fish limit with no more than one greater than 30 inches in possession. These changes are being done temporarily through an expedited rulemaking process to get them in effect by Nov. 1, as the law requires. Stevens said the DNR will also post the lakes this fall and hold local informational meetings in January 2012 before making the changes permanent. Meeting times and locations will be announced in early January.
Because the law enacted this summer also narrowed the definition of allowable special or experimental designated lakes for northern pike to those with length limits, regulations on an additional 17 lakes with catch-and-release or reduced bag limits will also be dropped from special or experimental regulations. The status of these lakes will be addressed through other DNR rule-making authorities in the months ahead.
During the past 20 years, the DNR has introduced many special and experimental regulations to improve the average size of fish and thereby improve fishing quality. For northern pike, special regulations typically require anglers to immediately release fish in a specified size range, often 24 to 36 inches, and limit the harvest of fish larger than the size range to one fish.