FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Some Otter Tail County lakes popular among anglers are among those proposed to have reduced sunfish limits beginning in 2022.
North and South Lida (near Pelican Rapids) and Big Pine (near Perham) will have sunfish limits reduced to 10 under the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Quality Bluegill Initiative proposal. They are among approximately 50 lakes around the state that could have lower bag limits that would go into effect in March 2022.
Under the proposal, sunfish daily bag limits would be reduced from the statewide limit of 20 sunfish to five sunfish on some lakes and 10 sunfish on others. Some lakes also have similar proposals for lower crappie daily bag limits.
Anglers around encouraged to comment through an online survey that will be open through Oct. 31.
Other lakes in Otter Tail and Becker counties that could see reduced limits under the proposal include Crystal, Island, Turtle and Venstrom, which is adjacent to South Lida. All would have daily limits reduced to 10 from 20.
The 50 lakes are added to nearly 100 that were included in the first phase of the Quality Bluegill Initiative, which went into effect in March 2021. Many of those lakes had their sunfish limit reduced to five, in an effort to increase quality fishing.
The reduction of sunfish limits to 10 is meant to maintain quality fishing.
The DNR began working on QBI several years ago, in an effort to improve the quality of sunfish angling in lakes capable of growing bigger fish. Anglers, lake association members, resort owners and other stakeholders told the DNR they were willing to sacrifice numbers of fish for better quality fish. So DNR biologists identified lakes that have the biological capacity to grow bigger sunfish and targeted those lakes.
Biologists say there has been a discernible shift of attitudes in recent years. Where lake-property owners and resorters once pushed back against reduced bag limits, they now support them for better quality panfishing.
In a press release, the DNR also said anglers "have voiced concern about the added pressure on fisheries as a result of electronic fish finders and other technological advancements, including rapid social media communication between anglers when fish are biting."
"These new regulations would continue our response to angler concerns about the declining sizes of some of our state’s most prized and frequently caught fish," Grand Rapids area fisheries supervisor Dave Weitzel said in the release. "We’re aiming to protect and improve sunfish sizes on select lakes with the biological potential to produce large sunfish."
You can post an online comment by going to the DNR website.
The statewide list can be seen at the DNR website: