Weather Forecast


New pike regulations under consideration by the DNR

BY Jason Durham


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources personnel presented information to the public concerning experimental northern pike regulations on several area lakes, experimental regulations for black crappie on Mantrap Lake and the potential implementation of an experimental regulation for largemouth bass on Lake George.

According to Park Rapids Fisheries Supervisor Doug Kingsley, this was not a meeting to get input on a final decision about any of the regulations, but mostly to inform people what is happening with several existing regulations and talk about a potential new regulation and get feedback. Several proposed ideas were presented from either current regulations or proposed regulations. Comments reflect information given from the Park Rapids Area Fisheries office.

n Northern pike regulations - 24-36” protected slot regulations (George, Mantrap, Blueberry lakes) –Kingley says, “It appears that size structure has shifted from smaller sizes to a higher proportion and number of medium to larger fish at all three lakes, and we haven’t seen any significant changes in abundance.”

n 40” minimum length regulations-Northern pike: (8th, 9th & 10th Crow Wings) “We have seen shifts in sizes of fish with lower proportion of smaller sized and higher proportion of larger, but we did see an increase in abundance of all sizes so those shifts in size structure may not have been so apparent.”

n 5th & 6th Crow Wings – “We had a 40” minimum there from 2003 through 2010. Like the other Crow Wings there was an increase in abundance. There was a summer fish kill on 5th & 6th in 2007 that affected bluegill and to a lesser extent crappie. People saw a decrease in panfish abundance because of that and figured the higher pike abundance and the regulation was to blame, and wanted a change. With the increase in pike abundance we decided that a protected slot might be more appropriate than the minimum, so we made that change in 2011. We sampled these lakes in 2009 to evaluate the regulation, but that was when we still had the 40” minimum. At that time we hadn’t seen the improvements in size structure there that we saw at all the other lakes. We haven’t sampled again since we changed the regulation in 2011, and we extended the evaluation period till 2018.

“There was legislation passed in 2011 that capped the number of lakes designated for special and experimental northern pike regulations at 100. The legislation also said that designated lakes must be selected from existing ones until 2021, and designation must continue for at least ten years (until 2021), then determine whether to discontinue. Since the legislation says they must continue, that has been interpreted to mean that we don’t have the option to modify those northern pike regulations.”

n Big Mantrap –

Black crappie, 10” minimum, 5 in possession

“This regulation has been

in effect for 7 years. Not a

real long time, but we are

not seeing any positive

shifts in sizes of crappies.

In retrospect, there may

be too much reproduction

and recruitment, and

slow growth for a minimum length limit like this.

I discussed the possibility

of relaxing the regulation

by removing the 10” min

imum but keeping the 5

possession limit. If we

decided to proceed with

that, we would have to

post the lake next summer

to advise the public we

were considering a regulation change, hold an offi

cial public input meeting

afterwards (probably in

fall), make a decision

based on that, and if ap

proved it could be imple-

mented in spring, 2015.”

n Kabekona Lake-

18-26” protected slot

for walleye, 4 in possession, 1 over 26” –

“This regulation was im-

plemented in 2006. The

goal was to increase the

spawning stock and to

improve natural reproduction. We have seen an

increase in abundance of

fish in the protected size

range, but also an in-

crease in fish smaller than

the protected size. We

have also seen an increase

in natural production of

young walleye since 2010. The regulation is scheduled to sunset in 2016. We will continue to evaluate, hold a

public meeting in 2015,

and make a decision

whether to continue,

modify or rescind based

on that input.”

n Lake George, possible

bass regulation –

“We have heard interest in a bass regulation at Lake George to improve sizes. I presented information from electrofishing in 1999, 2004 and 2009 that showed the highest catch rates of bass that we’ve ever seen in the Park Rapids area in 1999 and a decline to less than average in 2004 and 2009 as well as lower than average sizes of bass in all three samples. The information also suggests a higher than desirable mortality of bass that is probably limiting sizes.”

No decisions will be made regarding the experimental regulations for a few months or more.