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Archive for April, 2014

Some Fishing Opener News

The 2014 fishing opener on Leech Lake is expected to be excellent, according to the Minnesota DNR.  This year, those targeting Leech Lake as their opener destination will also be pleased to find increased opportunity for walleye harvest.  Beginning Saturday, May 10, a relaxed protected slot limit for walleye will be in effect allowing anglers to keep walleye up to 20 inches long.  All walleye 20 to 26 inches long must be immediately returned to the water.  The limit of four walleye with one longer than 26 inches allowed in possession has remained unchanged.

Mille  Lacs New Pike Regs

Mille Lacs anglers can keep 10 northern pike, including one longer than 30 inches, which represents and increase of seven fish more than last year’s limit on Mille Lacs.  The DNR announced the new regulations this year along with others that can be seen at  www.mndnr.gov/fishing/millelacs.  

Cook County Area

The Minnesota DNR is seeking public input this summer on experimental walleye regulation being considered for Saganaga, Sea Gull, and Gull lakes and the Sea Gull River.  All are in Cook County on or near the Minnesota Ontario border.  Regulations may include a 17 inch minimum size limit and a bag limit of three fish, with only one fish over 20 inches allowed. 

These regulations are being considered in response to concerns from anglers over a lack of smaller walleye in these waters, coupled with DNR assessment data showing declines in the number of walleye of all sizes present. Questions and comments can be directed to the DNR fisheries office in Grand Marais at 218-387-3056, or Steve Persons, Grand Marais area fisheries supervisor, at steve.persons@state.mn.us.

North Shore Looper and Steelhead Run

Things are picking up on the North Shore.  My brother hit the streams on the Lower North Shore over the weekend and picked up a few steelhead and loopers [ Loopers or Kamloops,  belong to the Rainbow Trout Family].  The streams are still dirty with a good flow of water.  He’s drifting spawn bags he ties himself under a snap on bobber, adjusted for the depth of the water he is fishing.  The snow has gone away from the shorelines of the streams with areas of snow still in the woods.  Time for me to head up!!! Remember all steelhead have to be released.  Loopers have a adipose fin removed so you can tell the difference.  Steelhead will have all of their fins.

Update On Steelhead And Loopers On The North Shore


All rivers along the North Shore are flowing strong.  Unfortunately rain and snow has kept rivers across the shore high and difficult to fish.  Rivers along the Lower Shore are all running high and dirty.  Afternoon water temperatures reached 35 degrees earlier in the week but were only about 32 degrees with Thursday’s cold front.  Angling pressure was light with most anglers fishing close to the river mouths due to the high water conditions.  Lake Superior continues to have a lot of ice that moves with the winds and has been severely limiting shore anglers targeting Kamloops.  Only one steelhead was reported by interviewed anglers.  Smelt will not run until river temperatures climb into the upper 40’s.  This was a report by the Mn DNR.

North Shore Looper/Steelhead Report

On normal years, the steelhead and Looper spawning run would be in full swing by now.  Because of the colder than normal winter, the spawning run is just getting started but according to my brother, none have been caught according to what he has seen.  He was out over the weekend fishing some streams from the Lester River north to Silver Creek.  All the rivers are running but the mouth’s of the streams are blocked with Ice that has been blown in from the main lake [Lake Superior].

The water in all the streams are still dirty from the spring runoff. Lot’s of snow still in  the woods up there and along the streams including some ice.  So be very careful when walking along the stream edges.  The water is still icy cold.  I’m sure there are some fish in the streams but they are just not biting at this time.  I would wait till next week for better results.  Fish early in the day when the water level is lower.  During the day the snow will melt at a better pace resulting in a higher water level but lower ability to get the bait to the fish.  I hope to be there next week when conditions should be better.

Some Minnesota Fishing Facts

The following information about fishing can be used in stories in preparation for the fishing opener on Saturday, May 10.

Anglers and waters

About 1.5 million licensed anglers  About 500,000 people are expected to fish on opening day of the walleye and northern pike season, Saturday, May 10.  Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 5,400 of which are managed by DNR fisheries.  There are 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, including 3,600 miles of trout streams.  Average annual expenditure per angler is about $1,500.  Although not every kind of fish lives everywhere, 162 species of fish can be found in Minnesota waters.

Fishing contributes $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in direct retail sales, ranking Minnesota fourth in the nation for angler expenditures.  Fishing supports 35,400 jobs.  Minnesota ranks second in resident fishing participation at 32 percent, second only to Alaska.  Minnesota is the third most-popular inland fishing destination in the country.  Minnesota ranks sixth among states with the highest number of anglers.  The top three states are Florida, Texas and Michigan.

Most resident anglers-855,000 of them in fact-are from urban areas.  The remaining 474,000 resident anglers live in greater Minnesota.  Men account for 66 percent of resident anglers.  Women account for 34 percent.  Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes rather than rivers and streams.  The average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year, with 84 percent of resident anglers never fishing anywhere else but Minnesota.  

Burning Restrictions Start Monday

The Minnesota DNR will place burning restrictions over the central part of the state beginning April 14 because fire danger is expected to rapidly increase as winds pick up and snow continues to melt.  These counties will be included in the initial burning restrictions:  Anoka, Benton, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Hennepin, Isanti, Otter Tail, Pope, Ramsey, Sherburne, Strearns, Todd, Washington and Wright.

The burning restrictions mean the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste.  Spring fire restrictions limit open burning until summer green up occurs.  Traditionally, most wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.  More than 95 % of these fires are caused by human error. “Because of the high fire incidence during this time period, the DNR initiates burning restrictions to coincide with this annual fire season,” said Larry Himanga, DNR wildfire prevention coordinator.

On April 21, these counties will also be under restrictions:  Aitkin, Becker, Cass [that portion south of the Chippewa National Forest boundary}, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Kanabec, Mahomen, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Polk [that portion south and east of County Road 6 from the Mahnomen County line to state Highway 92 east to the Clearwater County line], and Wadena.  More counties will be added as conditions warrant.

The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.  Spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires, Himanga said.  Campfires are still allowed.  Be sure to watch the fire continuously and mke sure it is out and cold to the touch before leaving.  For more information and maps visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html.  


Metro anglers who want to stick close to home for the April 12 stream trout opener will have nearly two additional miles of shoreline to explore as a result of acquisitions made by the Minnesota DNR in Dakota County.  Half a mile north of Dakota County Road 66  along County 79, the DNR has acquired a 52-acre aquatic management area that straddles the main branch of the Vermillion River, protecting 4.100 feet of shoreline.  Upland areas of the property include five acres of grasslands and 25 acres of woods.

Further east, a 62-acre acquisition now affords access to the south branch of the Vermillion River just south of County Road 66 and west of state Highway 52.  That parcel includes 6,900 feet of shoreline, 25 acres of grassland and 20 acres of woodland.  The south branch is a coldwater tributary to the Vermillion that provides rearing areas and offers refuge for trout, especially during hot summer weather. 

Both properties provide habitat for pheasants, turkeys, ducks, doves, deer and other wildlife; they also will be open to hunting, trapping and wildlife watching.  The DNR’s Fisheries section will continue to work with the DNR Wildlife section to manage upland areas. 

The Vermillion River has gained notoriety over the past 10 years as a trophy brown trout stream within  45 minutes of a major urban area.  As recently as 1960, though, the stream was considered unfit for any game fish due to poor water quality from industrial wastes and land use practices.  The river’s comeback has been the result of local, regional and state efforts to improve water quality.

Since 2005, the DNR has acquired land protecting nearly 10 miles of shoreline along the Vermillion for habitat and public access for fishing and hunting.  The DNR also has worked with local government and nonprofit conservation organizations on several stream restoration projects along the Vermillion.

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