Special fishing regulations put humble sunfish in the spotlight
Quality Sunfish Initiative includes lakes iin Becker, Otter Tail and Hubbard counties
Sunfish anglers on Little Cormorant, Little Toad, Lake Eunice and Lake Maud in Becker County may be especially interested in proposed special fishing regulations that, if adopted, would become effective next year. Most of the changes proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are aimed at protecting and improving sunfish sizes by lowering daily limits on 52 lakes.
Otter Tail County lakes affected include Franklin, Norway and Star lakes. Big Mantrap and Mary lakes in Hubbard County are also on the list.
“The majority of the proposed regulations make up the second and final year of the DNR’s Quality Sunfish Initiative, which is intended to address concerns by some anglers that the size of sunfish is either declining or in danger of declining,” said Jon Hansen, fisheries program consultant for the DNR. “We’re proposing daily limit reductions and invite people to share their input via an online survey or by attending an in-person meeting.”
The proposed lower daily limits on 52 lakes would go into effect in March 2022. Under the proposal, sunfish daily bag limits would be reduced from the statewide limit of 20 sunfish to five sunfish on some lakes and 10 sunfish on others. Some lakes also have similar proposals for lower crappie daily bag limits.
The DNR made an online presentation and comment opportunity available for the proposed changes in June. Thus far, the DNR has received nearly 450 comments through the online survey. The online survey is open through Sunday, Oct. 31.
Consistent with state law, the DNR also will host in-person open houses in each county where the proposed changes would apply and one in the Twin Cities metro area to cover all proposals. For those who want to attend an in-person meeting, information can be found on the DNR website or by calling an area fisheries office .
The meetings will take place on dates between Sept. 21-Oct. 20. The metro area open house will be from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the DNR’s Central Office at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul. Please check the webpage for any changes based on the evolving COVID-19 response.
Notification of the proposed changes to special fishing regulations have been posted at the accesses to each lake included in the proposal.
In addition to the 50 lakes where the DNR is proposing new special sunfish and crappie regulations, the DNR also is proposing minor changes to 63 lakes that already have special reduced possession limits. Under these changes, the reduced possession limit will change to a reduced daily limit, which will allow an angler to take a daily limit from a lake multiple days in a row until reaching the statewide possession limit (20 sunfish, 10 crappie). The change will create consistency with the newly implemented Quality Sunfish Initiative regulations and is not expected to have additional biological impacts.
Minnesota fishing regulations use sunfish as the generic name for bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish, longear, warmouth and their hybrids.
(The bluegill photo was listed for public use on the Flickr website. Some rights reserved )