May 10, 2004

It is time once again for a Leech Lake creel survey.  “Creel” is an old term describing a basket, often made of wicker that anglers once used to hold their catch. Throughout the summer on lakes across the state, DNR creel clerks ask anglers what time they started and stopped fishing, the number of people in their party, the species of fish they sought, and the weight, length, and number of fish they either kept or released. For the next few summers, anglers can expect to see Leech Lake creel clerks on a frequent basis.  Two consecutive winter creel surveys are also planned.  Creel surveys help assess the effectiveness of fisheries management techniques by measuring angler success. Sometimes anglers are asked what type of equipment they use, which is how we learned that the percentage of boats with depth finders has more than tripled since the 1970s.

Creel survey information helps fisheries managers determine fishing pressure, the size and number of fish harvested on a particular lake, and angler catch rates. That information, in turn, helps us determine how best to manage fish populations.  For example, Leech Lake has a safe harvest level of 209,000 pounds for walleye.  If the estimated angler harvest exceeds this level on a frequent basis, more restrictive regulations may be necessary.  Creel survey information is critical to the management of many lakes. 

Angler cooperation is vital and much appreciated during creel surveys.   We look forward to sharing our information with you.