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New walleye regulations to take effect on Lake Vermilion

Anglers on Lake Vermilion, near Tower and Cook, will see new walleye regulations in effect as of March 1, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday.

Under the new regulations, anglers on Lake Vermilion will be able to keep walleyes up to 20 inches long, with one allowed over 26 inches. The new regulation will require release of all walleyes from 20 to 26 inches. The four-fish bag limit will remain the same.

The current walleye limit on Lake Vermilion requires anglers to release all fish from 18 to 26 inches long, with one over 26 inches allowed in a limit of four.

Creel surveys of anglers in 2014 and 2015 showed that the lake's walleye harvest was well below safe-harvest limits. DNR officials said that allowed the agency the flexibility to establish more liberal limits.

The change will give anglers more opportunities to keep walleyes. Citizen input groups have met with DNR officials in recent months to reevaluate the lake's walleye limits. Lake Vermilion, a 40,000-acre lake, is divided roughly into eastern and western basins. Under the current rules, anglers in the western end of the lake had trouble catching enough smaller walleyes — under 18 inches — to keep.

During discussions last fall about the proposed regulation changes, DNR officials had offered three options for walleye regulations. In each case, the limit would have remained at four. The options included:

• A slot limit requiring release of walleyes 18 to 22 inches long (with one over 26 inches allowed)

• A slot limit requiring release of walleyes 20 to 26 inches long (with one over 26 allowed)

• Allowing anglers to keep one walleye longer than 18 inches in a limit of four.

The DNR worked closely with a citizens' group to come up with those options.

The change on Lake Vermilion is one among several to fishing regulations that are specific to individual waters and go into effect March 1. Following public review that wrapped up this past fall, fishing regulations will change on six lakes and three streams starting in March, while existing regulations on three lakes will become permanent and a regulation on one lake will be extended.

Regulations that are specific to individual waters take precedence over statewide regulations. Special regulations can be found in their own section of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations at mndnr.gov/fishmn, using LakeFinder, and posted at public accesses.

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