Cass Lake – one of Minnesota’s 10 largest walleye lakes – has a new draft management plan and the Department of Natural Resources is seeking input on it.

The plan outlines the proposed five-year fish population objectives and fisheries management actions for Cass Lake and connected waters on the Cass Lake Chain.

While the plan focuses on Cass Lake management, it is understood that fish populations, and anglers move throughout connected waters, and a management action on one basin affects the others.

The plan incorporates recommendations from a 14-member Cass Lake Fisheries Input Group, which included representatives from resorts, residents and lake associations on Cass Lake and connected waters, angling groups, species work groups, the Leech Lake Reservation Department of Resource Management, the Chippewa National Forest and the Cass Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Fishing on the Cass Chain is very important to the communities of Cass Lake, Bemidji and the surrounding area,” said Gary Barnard, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor. “Minnesota’s large destination walleye fisheries like Cass Lake attract anglers from all across Minnesota and numerous other states.”

Members from the input group provided important and diverse perspectives as users of the resource with a genuine interest in the long-term sustainability of the fishery. Input group members were concerned about the impact of angling pressure on the Cass Lake yellow perch fishery, and sunfish on connected waters, as anglers have become more mobile in targeting high quality populations.

The input group felt that the current status of the walleye and yellow perch fishery was excellent and encouraged the DNR to continue to support management efforts to sustain current levels of harvest.

The group also expressed concerns about system change and recommended that the DNR continue to study the potential impact of invasive species on the sustainability of the Cass Lake fishery.

The DNR is accepting public comments through Tuesday, Sept. 3, online at mndnr.gov/casslake/index.html. Paper questionnaires also are available at the DNR’s Bemidji area fisheries office, 2114 Bemidji Ave. in Bemidji. Following a review of comments, the DNR will revise the draft and finalize the Cass Lake management plan in October.

For more information, contact the DNR’s Bemidji area fisheries office at 218-308-2339.