June 17, 2003

The Leech Lake area provides some of the finest sport fishing opportunities in the state of Minnesota.  The quality and diversity of habitat present in Leech Lake supports naturally reproducing populations of walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, muskellunge,  largemouth bass and crappie.  While well known for its muskellunge fishing, the primary species sought by most anglers is the walleye.

To help maintain or improve the walleye fishing in Leech Lake, many local groups in cooperation with the DNR are sponsoring a voluntary catch and release program.  On Leech Lake, 20-30% of walleye greater than 20 inches in length are released.  These numbers are promising and are in part a result of the voluntary catch and release program.

Catch and release fishing creates a great opportunity for anglers to maintain and potentially improve the size structure of the population.  It is not a new concept and has been tremendously successful for improving the quality of trout, bass and muskellunge fishing in a number of states including Minnesota.  Quality size walleye released today have the potential to be recaptured as trophies down the road.  Most large walleye are female; thus, the practice of releasing these fish insures sufficient numbers of spawners will be available each spring.

Sponsors of the Leech Lake Area Voluntary Catch & Release Program:  Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, North Star Sportsmen Club, Leech Lake Association, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.