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New fishing tournament rules reduce permit fees

New rules for Minnesota fishing contests in 2010 may exempt some tournament organizers from permit requirements and will reduce permit fees by half, but charitable organizations will no longer be exempt from fees.

Anglers and others who want to host fishing tournaments in 2010 can submit applications now. The Minnesota DNR will give preference to applications received by Friday, Sept. 25.

Under the new permit fee structure, small open-water contests (31-100 participants, 50 or fewer boats) pay $60, while large open-water contests (more than 100 participants or 50 boats) pay $200. For contests that involve an off-site weigh-in, where contestants travel with their fish to a location away from the boat landing to weigh their fish, the fee for small open-water contests is $250. The fee for large open-water contests (more than 100 participants or 50 boats) with off-site weigh-ins is $500.

Fee payment, required at the time of application, is nonrefundable except for applications denied following a drawing or withdrawn by applicants prior to permit issuance.

Generally, fishing tournament organizers are exempt from permit requirements if one of the following conditions applies:

-The contest is limited to rough-fish species;

-Total prize value is $500 or less;

-All participants are 18 or younger;

-The number of boats is limited to 25 or less, entry fees are $25 or less, and the prize value is $25,000 or less.

Rules governing ice fishing contest permits, required for contests exceeding 150 participants, are unchanged. The fee for ice fishing contests with more than 150 participants is $120.

If the number of applications exceeds monthly limits, the DNR uses a lottery to allocate available permits. Applications received from Aug. 1 through Sept. 25 will be eligible for any necessary lottery drawing.

Tournaments with a history established prior to 2001 for a particular water body and time period will have preference. Applications received after Sept. 25 will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis through the 2010 tournament season, which begins Jan. 1, 2010.

"By limiting the number of contests held on any lake or stream on a monthly basis, we are trying to balance the interests of tournament participants with those of non-tournament anglers and others using state waters," said Al Stevens, DNR fisheries program consultant. "In addition, we keep two weekends each month free of permitted tournaments."

DNR limits the size and frequency of tournaments on lakes smaller than 55,000 acres, and on rivers and streams. In 2009, DNR issued nearly 450 permits statewide for fishing contests.

The number of tournaments allowed each month on lakes is based on lake size. For example, on lakes smaller than 2,000 acres, only two tournaments per month are allowed, each limited to no more than 50 boats or 100 participants. Lakes from 15,000 to 55,000 acres can have five contests per month, three of which may exceed 50 boats or 100 participants. There are no limits for lakes larger than 55,000 acres.

For a complete summary of the tournament regulations, call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Tournament permit applications and a fishing contest rule summary are available on the DNR website at