Weather Forecast


Leave the fish stocking to the experts

Danielle Runyon caught and released this 28-inch walleye in the Park Rapids area in June. Walleye are stocked by the DNR in local lakes but some anglers illegally transport other species to lakes, hoping to create new or greater angling opportunities. The practice is illegal and should not be considered due to environmental implications and fines. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stocks fish in our local lakes to ensure healthy populations and increase angling opportunities.

However, some people think they can improve a fishery by introducing fish into a body of water.

Maybe an aquatic pet has become cumbersome; the owner believing the animal will be better off in the wild, often times a natural environment unsuitable for the fish, additionally endangering native species of fish and other wildlife.

A few years ago I stopped at Minnesota Muskie Farm, a privately owned hatchery in Brandon. My purchase; three muskie fingerlings to place inside the 55-gallon aquarium in my kindergarten classroom.

Two Leech Lake strain muskies and a tiger muskie (a hybrid created between a muskie and a northern pike) were placed in an airbag, much like those offered at a bait shop. A few hours later they were placed into their new home in my fish tank.

Research revealed the fingerling muskies would grow to 12 to 14-inches in the first year, then become too large for my glass encased environment.

After contacting Doug Kingsley, Park Rapids Regional Fisheries Supervisor to inquire about which lake he wanted me to put the fish in when they reached the next stage of development, the answer was surprising. "We don't want your fish," Kingsley said.

The possibility of disease transfer and environmental impact are not acceptable in our lakes.

People are often misinformed about their ability, or rather inability to place fish in a lake. It's illegal and should never be considered.

Three weeks ago, local angler Randy Anderson from Nevis, caught a yearling muskie in Waboose lake. Muskie and northern pike were never introduced to Waboose Lake by the DNR, a body of water initially utilized as a rearing pond for walleye.

Northern pike have become increasingly prevalent in the lake, privately released at some point in time by an angler thinking their presence would be beneficial.

Two other lakes notable for new species are East Crooked Lake and Long Lake, which have both offered smallmouth bass in recent years, a non-native species to each body of water.

According to a DNR press release in 2005, "a pair of Brooklyn Park anglers captured a 2-foot-long caiman in the Mississippi River under the Interstate 694 bridge. Caimans, crocodile-like creatures, range from southern Mexico to Brazil's Amazon River basin."

"The caiman, which was eventually turned over to a reptile expert, was likely an aquarium pet that had been illegally dumped by its owner," said DNR invasive species biologist Nick Proulx.

"Although many nonnative animals and plants won't survive Minnesota's climate, releasing them into lakes and rivers is risky for several reasons," Proulx said. "They could introduce diseases or parasites or have invasive species hitchhiking on them. Some released species and hitch-hikers that survive and become invasive can increase in abundance and displace native species."

In other words, don't transport fish into another body of water due to the environmental impact, not to mention a hefty monetary penalty.