Walleye fishing regulations are changing starting Friday, March 1, on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
"These are extremely popular destinations not only in the spring, but all year long," said Phil Talmage, Baudette area fisheries supervisor with the DNR. "We're spreading the word to anglers to make sure they're aware of the new regulations."
The winter regulations on Lake of the Woods that begin March 1 will match the current summer regulations, reducing the aggregate walleye and sauger limit from eight to six, with no more than four walleye. The protected slot limit remains in effect that requires anglers to immediately release any walleye between 19.5 and 28 inches, with only one fish over 28 inches allowed in possession.
On the Rainy River and in Four Mile Bay, a catch-and-release season will be in effect March 1 to April 14. The current Rainy River spring season regulation allows anglers to keep two walleye or sauger, and requires the immediate release of walleye 19.5 inches in length or larger.
The new regulations on both waters help ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource while maintaining fishing opportunities.
On the lake, the changes are a response to expanding winter fishing pressure that pushed sauger harvest above management objectives - the annual target harvest is 250,000 pounds but current harvest is 400,000 pounds. Winter angling accounted for 80 percent of the annual sauger harvest.
The changes on the river are a response to increasing fishing pressure and longer periods of open water that led to higher walleye harvest, particularly male walleye in the spring.
More information about Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River, the new management plan, and a document detailing public comments and DNR responses to frequently asked questions can be found at mndnr.gov/lakeofthewoods. More background about the changes can be found in the December news release originally announcing the regulation changes.