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Brad Laabs column: Is it time to lower 50-year-old walleye limit?

I will be a little "all over the map" this week as we close in on the middle of February.

First is the welcoming of the last snow we received, followed by the upcoming stretch of nice weather. Ice depths are good in our area, and the snow cover is helping smooth out some of the rough travel. It also helps to have some snow on the ice for banking permanent and portable fish houses. Banking portables with icy slush from your augured holes is a pain in rear, and inconvenient after it freezes when it is time to close up and leave. The walleye bite has slowed, but the panfish and northern bites remain strong in our area.

About three weeks ago, the DNR held its roundtable discussion. One of the issues that was brought up was a consideration of a statewide "bag" limit change for walleyes from 6 per day to 4 per day statewide, instead of just a few lakes under that micromanaged limit.

Gary Korsgarden, a well-known angler from this region, and a longtime member of F-M Walleye Club, is a member of the committee and raised good points about the need for considering some change. No decisions have been made, only discussions.

Some discussion also occurred in considering crappie fishing limits as well. I believe it will be awhile before any decisions get made, as making change is usually made due to scientific research that indicates these changes would be necessary.

It will take time to put data together, further discussions, recommendations for legislative consideration (and their debate), and then decisions and implementation. It may be a while, and the current limit for walleye has been in place for 50 years.

I think it is very good to look at this issue as I have been on record several times believing it would be good to move to a 4 walleye daily limit, but I would like to see us then go to a two day limit in possession.

If you remember, this last fall Mille Lacs Lake hosted the Toyota Bass Masters "Angler of the Year" Championship in mid-September. The tournament was a huge success and showcased Mille Lacs as a true trophy smallmouth bass fishery. It proved it is one of the best in the country. The Bass Masters will be back to Mille Lacs again this September 14-17 for their "Angler of the Year" Championship. This is the first time they are returning to the same location in consecutive years.

The DNR has also changed the bass harvest limit from 4 to 3 fish, starting the bass opening date of May 27. This is in response to knowing the national attention will increase pressure on the lake and being proactive in insuring the resource remains strong.

The local ice derbies around our area draw well. More proof of the increasing popularity of ice angling. We still have some weeks left of ice angling and more derbies in the area and around the state. Boat and sport shows will also get rolling, so the rest of February and March can easily fill your schedule with fishing related activities. As we warm and get to the end of February, I start getting impatient for open water and getting back into a boat.

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