July 19, 2002

From the Minnesota DNR 2002 Fisheries Newsletter.  Edited by Harlan Fierstine,
Area Fisheries Supervisor and Pat Rivers, Large Lake Specialist (Leech Lake).

Six of the ten largest walleye lakes in Minnesota have experimental regulations on walleye.  These regulations place stricter limits on a given lake than the statewide regulation of a six walleye limit, with only one over 24 inches.  Most of these stricter regulations involve a protected slot limit (PSL).  For example, a PSL of 17-26 inches prohibits walleye harvest within this slot limit.  The chances of the regulation improving a fishery diminish with each inch taken out of the PSL. For example, based on the 1999 creel, a 17-26 inch PSL would have protected 26 percent of the harvested walleye.  By changing the PSL to 18-26 inches, only 14 percent of the walleye harvested would have been spared the frying pan. That 1 inch nearly doubles the number of walleye protected!

To be effective, a PSL needs to do what its name implies-protect fish.  The long and the short of it is that in order to get a benefit from an experimental regulation, anglers have to give up something in the short term.  Some feel that Leech Lake should have a more restrictive regulation for walleye.  Modeling done by the DNR suggests a 17-28 inch protected slot limit would not significantly change catch rates for all walleye.  Such a regulation likely would increase catch rates for larger walleye (>20 inch), however, it is unclear as to whether an angler would notice the difference.  Although no decision has been made to go forward with an experimental regulation at this time, we continue to solicit stakeholders as to their opinion for or against experimental regulations.  Look for public meetings to be held in the coming months or let us know personally how you feel about experimental regulations on Leech Lake.