WALKER -- A proposed walleye regulation change on Leech Lake would allow anglers more opportunities to keep walleye beginning when the 2019 open water fishing season opens.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking input on the change at an open house from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 24, at the Walker Area Community Center.
The proposed regulation change would remove the 20- to 26-inch protected slot and replace it with a regulation similar to the statewide regulation, but with a four-fish walleye limit, only one of which can be over 20 inches.
The current walleye regulation on Leech Lake is four fish, requiring the immediate release of any walleye that are within a 20- to 26-inch protected slot limit. Only one fish over 26 inches allowed in possession. The four-fish walleye possession limit on Leech Lake has been in effect since 2005.
“The regulation was initially put in place to help protect spawning fish,” said Doug Schultz, DNR Walker area fisheries supervisor, in a release. “Regulation goals have been exceeded, prompting the DNR to propose increased harvest opportunity at this time.”
Carl Pedersen, the DNR large lake specialist on Leech Lake, said the walleye population is in excellent condition at this time and can afford some additional harvest.
“We have an abundant population of spawning-age fish with a wide distribution of sizes, and multiple year classes of smaller fish entering the fishery,” Pedersen said. “Protective fishing regulations combined with very consistent production of year classes over the past 10 years have put us in a very good position.”
If future fisheries assessments indicate harvest should be reduced, the DNR anticipates revisiting the protected slot limit at that time.
At the meeting, there will not be a formal presentation but DNR staff will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the proposed regulation with individuals who attend. Following the meeting, comments will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 5. Those unable to attend the meeting can provide comments by calling the Walker area fisheries office at (218) 547-1683 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anglers who can’t make the meeting in Walker can attend an open house about that and other regulation proposals from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the DNR headquarters in St. Paul, 500 Lafayette Road. No formal presentations will be made at the open house.
More information on fishing regulations can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/fishing.