DNR meets walleye egg goals

Fisheries crews for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were able to collect enough walleye eggs for state stocking needs again this spring – and meet their quota – after canceling last spring’s egg take because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the DNR’s Northwest Region, crews wrapped up the spawning effort Sunday, April 25, and collected about 1,500 quarts of walleye eggs, said Henry Drewes, Northwest Region fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji.

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Statewide, the DNR met its quota of 4,400 quarts of walleye eggs, Drewes said. There are about 120,000 eggs in a quart, he said.

Egg-taking operations were closed to the public this year as part of the DNR’s COVID-19 safety measures.

Persistent cold, windy weather for much of April resulted in “grueling” conditions for fisheries workers, Drewes said, but crews were able to meet the DNR’s statewide stocking quota, which included 500 to 600 extra quarts of eggs to make up for some of last year’s lack of fry stocking.

“It’s been a grind for the spawning operation with all these weather changes and the cold weather, but the good news is we achieved our quota,” he said. “We were not anticipating the success we had. At any day in the game, we weren’t sure we were going to get to the finish line.”

The eggs spend 10 to 12 days in the hatchery before the fry are placed into rearing ponds to prepare them for stocking across the state.

Take Mom fishing this weekend

Take a Mom Fishing Weekend — when Minnesota-resident moms can fish without a license — is Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9. This special weekend is defined in Minnesota statutes as the weekend that coincides with Mother’s Day.

Most years, under Minnesota law, the fishing opener and Take a Mom Fishing Weekend fall on the same weekend, but not this year. Per state law, which calls for fishing season to open the second Saturday before the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, this year’s fishing opener is Saturday, May 15.

Though the walleye season isn’t open for this year’s Take a Mom Fishing Weekend, fishing is open for several other species, including crappies, sunfish and under-appreciated fish such as buffalo, suckers, bullheads or sheepshead.

More details: DNR fishing page

Fish a free walleye derby

A free virtual walleye derby is available to anglers participating in this year’s Minnesota Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 15.

The event is open from 12:01 a.m. to 4 p.m. opening day on any public lake or river in Minnesota, and here’s how it works:

Download the FishDonkey app on your smartphone and use the hashtag #OnlyinMN Cup to find and join the event. When you catch a walleye during the event, use the FishDonkey app to photograph and enter the fish. Submit one photo of the fish being measured on an accurate yardstick or bump board and another photo of you holding the fish horizontally. The FishDonkey app takes care of the rest.

Thanks to the event’s catch-photo-release format, every walleye caught could be a potential winner, even if it must be released because of a slot-limit or other special regulation.

As per tournament rules, contest participants can’t take a picture with their phone camera and then upload the picture to the app. Instead, the app must be open to take the photo of the fish.

Prizes will be awarded in both adult and youth (16 and younger) categories and include a $1,000 gift card from Fleet Farm, a $500 Fleet Farm card and a $500 gift card good anywhere in Otter Tail County – site of this year’s Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener – along with a $400 gift card from Blackfish Gear, lifejackets from Onyx and a fishing rod and hat combo from Gene’s Sport Shop.

To sign up for the free event, download the FishDonkey app and follow the prompts for the #OnlyinMN Cup tournament.

More info: https://tourney.fishdonkey.com/#/tournament-info/6584/details

DNR offers pike reminder

Walleyes aren’t the only game in town when Minnesota’s fishing season opens Saturday, May 15. Anglers can also keep northern pike, but they should become familiar with the regulations and be prepared to measure any pike they keep on inland waters across the state.

Minnesota has three northern pike zones that apply to inland waters and reflect the differing characteristics of pike populations across the state:

  • North-central: Limit of 10 northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all fish 22 to 26 inches must be released.

  • Northeast: Two northern pike; anglers must release all fish 30 to 40 inches, with only one fish over 40 inches allowed in possession.

  • South: Two northern pike; minimum size 24 inches.

Throughout the state, special regulations that cover individual lakes, rivers and streams remain in effect and take precedence over the zone regulations. The northern pike zone regulations do not apply to border waters.

More details: DNR northern pike page.

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