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Walleyes give way to muskies this time of year

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I am on the water every day and I have noticed something kind of unusual that takes place about this time every year over the last several years. I have noticed that the number of Muskie fisherman out fishing keeps increasing and the number of other anglers out chasing other species seems to be decreasing. This seems especially true on Pelican and Big Detroit Lakes.

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Muskie fishing seems to be on the rise all over the state and July seems to be a "hot" month to chase after the king of the freshwater lakes. The number of walleye anglers seems to slow down during July and August even though they are still active and can be actively caught during the "dog days" of summer.

The DNR has also noticed this trend and it has been reflected in the changes implemented on Upper Red Lake and the world famous Mille Lacs Lake. The harvest rates are way down this year so the restrictions have been relaxed. Upper Red had a slot of 17 to 26 inches, meaning any walleye measuring 17 inches or longer had to be released and one fish over 26 inches was allowed to be harvested. That slot is now 20 to 26 inches. A four fish harvest per angler is allowed. Mille Lacs also has a four walleye per angler limit, but as of July 15, the slot has been changed from 18 to 28 inches to 20 to 28 inches.

No one is sure of the reasons for the slow down in the number of walleye anglers. Some speculate the weather issues and inconsistent catch rates, some guess the economy, others speculate it is the slots and limits themselves that have reduced the number of walleye anglers, especially on some of the premier lakes in the state. I think it could be all of the above as well as the huge growth in Muskie chasing.

Do May and June walleye anglers become July and August Muskie fisherman? I wonder?

The biggest concern I have with seeing the declining numbers has to do with the decrease in the number of youth anglers. This truly concerns me. I know others have noticed and are attempting to stimulate interest. One group of local anglers took kids fishing over to Mille Lacs. Great job guys. The state has encouraged "take a kid fishing" programs and still has no license required to fish until 16 years old.

Lets get this turned around and headed in the right direction. I suggest buying kids fishing poles instead of video games, iPods and cell phones. Better yet, get them for the whole family and get out fishing together. Fishing is good for everything that ails the human condition.

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