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DNR considers change in Gunflint-area walleye rules

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is considering a change in walleye regulations on Saganaga Lake, Sea Gull and Gull lakes and the Sea Gull River near the tip of the Gunflint Trail northwest of Grand Marais. Any changes would take effect in 2015, and the agency is seeking comments on the proposal this summer.

Regulations may include a 17-inch minimum size limit and a bag limit of three fish, with only one fish longer than 20 inches allowed. Currently, the limit is six walleyes with no minimum size limit and one fish longer than 19½ inches allowed.

“We’ve been hearing from anglers that they aren’t seeing the number of walleye in the catch that they’re used to seeing, and particularly there’s some concern they aren’t seeing the smaller fish coming up,” said Steve Persons, DNR area fisheries supervisor at Grand Marais.

The minimum size limit is intended to protect younger fish from harvest and to maximize returns from natural reproduction and stocking, Persons said. The lower bag limit is intended to prevent harvest of too many fish as they grow larger than the minimum size limit. The restriction on the number of fish longer than 20 inches that can be taken has been included to be consistent with statewide walleye regulations, and to prevent overharvest of the largest walleye in these waters.

Saganaga Lake is considered one of Minnesota’s trophy walleye waters. Persons said one factor in the decline of walleyes in that lake could be that smelt, present since the 1970s, could be preying on young-of-the-year walleyes and competing with them for food.

Signs advising the public of this proposal will be posted at public accesses on all affected waters over the summer. Public input will be taken throughout the summer, and input meetings will be held in Grand Marais and in St. Paul in late September. Notice of meeting times and places will be published before the meetings.

Questions and comments can be directed to the DNR fisheries office in Grand Marais at (218) 387-3056 or to Persons at