Brad Laabs: Rules change on the Mississippi; local ice fishing looks good for next 7-10 days

Starting the same day you needed your new Minnesota fishing license (March 1) the new regulations for walleye and sauger started on pools 3-8 on the Mississippi River.

For 70 years the limit was six fish (in combination of walleye/sauger) with no size restriction other than the minimum for walleye being 15 inches.

The new regulation is four walleye/sauger in combination with a 15-inch minimum for walleye and only one fish over 20 inches. The Minnesota and Wisconsin DNR worked on the proposal together.

The season for those fish never closes on either side of the river, and pressure on those fish (especially during spawn) has been increasing for a number of years. It is good to see progress with the implementation of change instead of sticking to regulations because they have “always been that way.”

Let’s hope the state legislature can get on board with the proposal from Sen. Carrie Ruud’s proposal (presented Wednesday, March 11) to reduce the statewide daily walleye limit from six to four in possession. I will pass along the news as soon as I hear of any change.


Fish houses north of Highways 10, 34, and 200 need to be removed by midnight Monday, March 16. They can remain on Lake of the Woods until March 31 (or the ice determines they need to come off). Ice conditions are still very good on Lake of the Wood, with three feet of ice and no slushing or flooding issues.

Our local ice conditions remain very good for this time of the season. The slow melt has knocked the snow down, but not impaired the quality of the ice. Travel on area lakes remains good, especially on the cloudy days below freezing temps.

If you still need to get your house off the lakes north of highways 10 and 34, mornings are the best as conditions are firm. The forecast this weekend looks favorable for not running into any slush conditions that would make it difficult for removal.

The panfish bite continues to be very good in the area for anglers that are getting out. Reports of quality tullibee action also continue. Some jumbo perch are getting caught off Little Pine, Ottertail, Island, and Rush … but the bite is inconsistent and a little more unpredictable than the gill and crappie bite.

Small jigs, tipped with wax worms or plastics, are working on the panfish as well as smaller vertical jig spoons. Tullibee are responding to bright colors or high flash vertical lures and remain suspended over deeper holes. Aggressive jigging gets them fired up and aggressive.

Ice conditions look like they will remain mostly unchanged for the next week to 10 days, as the forecast reflects very few days above freezing with some very low overnight temperatures.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)


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