Pay attention! That is what my teacher would tell the class when something important was about to be brought up. Anglers, pay attention! State Senator Satveer Chaudhary is proposing a bill to open the fishing season a week early, reduce the walleye limit from six to four and consider a statewide slot limit.
Regarding the early opener, the senator believes climate changes have impacted the spring spawning such that much if not all has occurred by the existing opener date. This should leave any biological impact minimal to none. Because a senator believes this to be true, is it? How many anglers remember Rainy and Little Cutfoot Sioux being closed for the opener? Many times it is critical the week before the existing opening date. Hopefully before anything is passed scientific data will back up the senatorís belief or dispel his belief.
Senator Chaudharyís proposal will also consider establishing a state wide walleye slot. Currently the one most anglers are familiar with is a 17 to 26 inch protected slot with one walleye over 26 inches. This slot affects Winnie and Red Lake to name a few. Some of the lakes that do not have slots like Deer Lake and Wabana are lakes that do not have natural reproduction. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has deemed it not necessary for slot limits on lakes like these. Is it the senatorís belief that the DNR is wrong in their evaluation of lakes that do not have a slot? I hope before a bill is passed, the DNR and anglers will have a chance to voice their beliefs about this subject.
Is a reduction to four walleyes enough for anglers? It probably is. Is it necessary? Probably not. About five years ago there were public meetings to look at lowering the walleye limits. At that time four was not an option because the DNR said the reduction from six to four would not have a biological effect on the walleye population. Is that still true?
Is the reduction to four the first step to two walleyes? Red Lake has proven anglers would not come for two fish.
A creel census conducted by the DNR about 2000 may be outdated but it showed .8 of 1 percent caught five walleyes and .5 of 1 percent caught six. Only 1.3 percent of all the anglers surveyed caught five or six. Using those figures we should probably raise the limits. More recent studies show the average angler catches 2.7 walleyes.
Anglers, pay attention!