Muskie season closes early, winter trout season opens Jan. 12
Several angling rule changes will soon take effect due to DNR approval of a rule "package" Monday, Dec. 10 affecting a pair of local fish species. The first shortens the season for muskie fishing, while the second provides a winter trout season on Blue Lake in Hubbard County.
Previously, muskie season opened four weeks after the Minnesota walleye and northern season, then followed the bass, northern and walleye seasons until late February. The new rule terminates the muskie season one week from today, Saturday, Dec. 15. In 2008, the muskie season will run from June 7 until Dec. 1.
Roy Johannes, DNR Fisheries Program Coordinator in St. Paul, provided insight to the amendment.
"Basically interest in the issue came from the Minnesota Muskie Alliance, an umbrella group that oversees the numerous chapters of Muskies Inc., based on two concerns."
One addresses mortality in muskie when exposed to extremely cold temperatures. The second originated through radio telemetry studies conducted on the Mississippi River just south of Brainerd.
"It was discovered that muskies in that fishery congregated in deeper pools beginning late in the fall and into winter," recalls Johannes. "Some of those fish were caught two to three times per day in the month of December."
Before the DNR made the rule change, it first went under public scrutiny. Open forums were held to discuss the issue, with the vast majority of anglers lending favorable support for the early closure. Johannes admits that there were a few anglers opposed to the change.
"Due to gradual climate change, there are a greater number of people fishing muskies into December, but it's the combination of exposure and susceptibility that puts the fish at risk."
Johannes notes that the primary focus of the Minnesota DNR muskie management throughout the state is to provide an opportunity for anglers to catch a trophy caliber fish.
Blue Lake rainbows
In addition to the early closure of muskie season, Blue Lake in Hubbard County will entertain a winter trout season running from Jan. 12 until March 16.
Doug Kingsley, Park Rapids Area Fisheries supervisor explains the reasoning.
"We haven't seen a lot of evidence indicating utilization of the Blue Lake trout resource. Hopefully this will provide an opportunity for anglers to take advantage of the lake as a rainbow trout fishery."
Previous fishing regulations prohibited winter trout fishing on Blue Lake, as is the case for all bodies of water containing rainbow trout in Hubbard County. This rule change will only effect Blue Lake in the immediate region, not other county lakes with populations of trout.
Though managed for walleye, the Park Rapids Area Fisheries stock rainbow trout in Blue Lake every other year. However, the presence of various fish species excludes it from classification as a designated trout lake.
Minnesota state fishing regulations permit anglers to keep five trout per person, but allow only three over 16 inches. A current Minnesota fishing license and trout stamp is required to harvest trout from Blue Lake once the winter trout season opens.
Additional rule changes are available for viewing on the Minnesota DNR Web site, www.dnr.state.mn.us.
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