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Red Lake slot limit restrictions provide protection, angling opportunity

Regulations that require Upper Red Lake anglers to release smaller walleye during the first month of the open water season will remain in effect for 2010, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

From Saturday, May 15, through Monday, June 14, anglers must release all walleye 17 to 26 inches long. Effective Tuesday, June 15, anglers must immediate release all walleye 20 to 26 inches long. During both time periods, anglers can possess no more than four fish and only one of those fish can be longer than 26 inches.

The walleye size limit will revert back to the 17- to 26-inch protected range on Wednesday, Dec. 1, for the winter angling season. The possession limit will remain at four fish.

"One year-round regulation would be less complex but this set of regulations provides a good balance of resource protection and angler opportunity on Upper Red Lake," said Gary Barnard, DNR Bemidji Area Fisheries Supervisor.

A more restrictive size limit is necessary for the early season when angler catch rates are high and mature spawning walleye are extremely vulnerable. During the first month of the season, anglers must sort for smaller "keeper" size males and immature walleye. As the open water season progresses, catch rates and fishing pressure decline, reducing the impact of harvesting larger walleye.

The adjustment back to a more restrictive size limit in winter is necessary due to consistently high ice fishing pressure.

"This regulation package, which has been very popular with anglers and local businesses, effectively manages walleye harvest within established safe harvest levels," Barnard said.