I was fishing last fall and early winter when I ran into a couple of groups of anglers who, to my amazement, did not know the fishing limits for walleye and northern pike on one of Minnesota’s prime fishing lakes. Both groups were over their limit. One has to wonder if they were really ignorant about the rules or if they were just breaking the law on purpose. I will never know, but with the fishing opener just around the corner, I think fishing limits are a topic that needs to be reviewed again.
Walleye regulations are a little more complicated with new rules being applied to different bodies of water around the state, but here are the statewide rules and the big four lakes most impacted by special regulations.
Statewide: The walleye limit is the same as it has been for many years. Six walleyes in possession with only one walleye over 20 inches long.
Leech Lake: Four walleyes in possession with one over 20 inches.
Red Lake: Four in possession with one over 17 inches.
Mille Lacs: The walleye season is Saturday, May 11, until Friday, May 31. One walleye between 21-23 inches or one walleye over 28 inches. Beginning June 1, all walleye fishing is catch and release.
Winnibigoshish: Four in possession. All fish 18-26 inches must be immediately released. One over 26 inches.
The northern pike regulations have also proven to be confusing to some. Here are the basic rules:
North Central Zone: Ten Pike, no more than two over 26 inches, all from 22-26 must be released.
Northeast Zone: May keep two, 30-40 inches is the protected slot, may keep one over 40 inches.
South: May keep two, minimum size is 24 inches.
These are the basic rules with the majority of key lakes listed but it is still important to get the rule book and know what the regulations are for the lake you are fishing.
Not everyone agrees with having special regulations on specific bodies of water but the DNR is looking at the big picture to see how they can best manage different lakes based on the level of pressure each lake receives. I think the most important thing to remember is that, with the exception of Mille Lacs and the walleye rules, the number of walleyes and pike that we are able to keep is still very generous. For anglers who have a good day of fishing, filling the frying pan should not be a problem.
Enjoy the 2019 fishing season. Know the rules, be safe and soak up some warm sun. We have all waited a long time to get back on open water. Make your opener a great one!