Red Lake Tribal Council proposes walleye regulations
Beginning in May, Red Lake Nation members will once again be able to fish for walleye on their reservation lakes. However, the Tribal Council has proposed a series of temporary regulations for the 2006 season. The Tribal Council has set a comment...
Beginning in May, Red Lake Nation members will once again be able to fish for walleye on their reservation lakes.
However, the Tribal Council has proposed a series of temporary regulations for the 2006 season.
The Tribal Council has set a comment period until March 24 for Red Lake members to express their opinions on the regulations.
Long-term regulations designed to sustain a healthy walleye population and govern the use of the resource will be developed after the season opens. The walleye population crashed in the 1990s due to over fishing. Through restocking, the walleye population has recovered enough that anglers can legally fish for walleye on Upper and Lower Red Lake again.
The fishing season for Upper Red Lake, where non-Red Lake Nation members are allowed to fish, will begin May 13. Anglers there will be allowed to keep two walleye, but must release all walleye from 17 through 26 inches, with one trophy larger than 26 inches allowed, according to a Red Lake Department of Natural Resources announcement.
The proposed regulations for Red Lake members on the portion of the lakes controlled by the Red Lake Nation are different. The proposed rules also apply to all the smaller lakes on the reservation, as well as the rivers flowing into and out of the Red Lakes.
According to the Red Lake Tribal Council suggestions, the season will open May 6 with a daily bag limit of 10 walleye. Walleye more than 18 inches long must be released immediately, except for one walleye measuring more than 28 inches daily.
The size regulations protect the female walleye that are large enough to produce eggs.
Fishing by hook and line would be the only legal method of harvesting walleye. Red Lake members would be allowed to sell fish only to other residents of the reservation. If the fish are filleted before transport, skins must be kept on the fillets for identification of the walleye.
Al Pemberton, Red Lake DNR director, said that at the close of the comment period March 24, the Tribal Council will enact the new set of regulations, along with fines and penalties to protect the walleye. Pemberton is also a Tribal Council representative from Redby.
"It's actually just a talking point right now," Pemberton said. "What they're going to be is just interim regulations."
He said the Red Lake Nation should have the temporary regulations in place about one month before the season opens.
He said the larger bag limit for the reservation lakes, as compared to the non-reservation part of Upper Red Lake, reflects the smaller number of people who will fish and the larger expanse of the lakes they will be fishing. As for the size limit, Pemberton said no one on the reservation would be fishing for trophies.
"Nobody really wants to keep the big ones," he said. "They just want to get something to eat."
He said the regulations would be put to an advisory vote of Red Lake members for Tribal Council consideration when drawing up future regulations.
"One of the things people -- non-Red Lakers -- have to understand is this land is all held in common," Pemberton said. "We're not going to shove anything down their throats."
Pat Brown, Red Lake Fisheries biologist, said the Red Lake walleye population is recovering but still needs protection.
"This is one of the largest freshwater fish recoveries in the nation," Brown said.
"It's come back quicker than they thought it would,' Pemberton said. "Once we get a few more years of age classes, it'll be pretty good. We've got to move slow."
Brown said the recovery was accomplished through a partnership between the Red Lake Nation and the Minnesota DNR.