Brad Laabs column: Time to change walleye harvest, possession limits?

A guide from the Brainerd area, Nate Blasing, has been actively involved with the Walleye Alliance Inc. with an effort to reduce the Minnesota daily walleye harvest from six fish to four.

This kind of change cannot be done by the DNR alone, but requires legislative action. As a result of the efforts, Sen. Ruud introduced S.F. No. 2994: A bill for an act relating to natural resources; directing the commissioner of natural resources to reduce the walleye limit.

This bill has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance. This is not the first time some proposals have been presented regarding changing the six fish per day harvest, but it seems to have some energy and support now that previous presentations lacked.

The radio program “Gone Outdoors,” hosted by Kyle Agre and Scott Brewer on the Mighty 790 KFGO, did a great interview with Blasing last week about the proposal. A podcast of the interview can still be heard by going to the KFGO website and the “Gone Outdoors” history of interviews. The Nate Blasing interview was on the program Feb. 6 if you are interested in hearing his input.

I am personally in favor of this change, however I would also like to see the possession limit then also change from being the same as the daily limit. A daily limit of four fish, and a possession limit of eight would be more in line with our neighboring states.


I also believe this kind of change would help improve an already good walleye fishing tourism in Minnesota. Visitors would like to take a couple more fish home after their vacation here.

I am sure many studies and much debate will take place over this kind of change. I would be surprised if any real movement on this issue occurred over the next couple of years. We will see what comes of this, and keep you posted as things progress (or not).

In lakes where the DNR has already implemented special regulations of a reduced daily bag limit, the impact has been positive on the lake’s fish populations and angling catch rates.

A reduced daily limit has not reduced tourism to lakes like Leech and Red that have already had special reduced daily harvest regulations in place. The only exception to a reduced bag limit that has significantly impacted angling numbers is the Mille Lacs Lake experiment of the last few years. A one-fish harvest on that lake has had a significant negative financial impact on all the businesses associated with the lake. It looks to be that way again this year for the big lake. Really, Minnesota? One fish? Unbelievable!

A big congratulations goes out to 12-year-old Brody Bowers on winning the $15,900 Ice Castle fish house for catching the big fish in the Feb. 8 Poles ‘N Holes fishing derby on Little Detroit Lake. His 4.66 pound northern far outpaced anything else for the day. He iced the fish on a sucker minnow in the first 5 minutes of the event and had to wait nervously until the event ended to confirm his win. Most of the top 30 finishers had northern with a few bass and crappie getting in for placing and prizes.

A reminder that walleye, largemouth bass, and northern season closes on inland lakes in Minnesota next weekend (midnight Sunday, Feb. 23). The pan fish bite in the area remains good and the tullibee have started. Ice conditions and travel on area lakes continues to improve. They are in the best shape now that they have been since the early ice season.

Good luck, be safe, and make good decisions on the ice.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)


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