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Ask a Conservation Officer: Rules for when fishing seasons close

Q: Since walleye, bass and pike seasons are now closed, can I still fish in waters where they swim? A: The closure of seasons for different species of fish at different times is designed to minimize pressure on those species when they are at thei...

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Q: Since walleye, bass and pike seasons are now closed, can I still fish in waters where they swim?

A: The closure of seasons for different species of fish at different times is designed to minimize pressure on those species when they are at their most vulnerable, usually during a time surrounding their spawning season.

For instance, pike and walleye spawn in the early spring, while ciscoes and lake trout spawn in the fall, and closures or seasonal limitation reflect that.

It is unlawful to target or fish for a species during the closed season. However, it is possible that you may catch a walleye during the closed season when you are legally fishing for a species that is open, such as crappies or perch. As long as the protected (closed season) fish was not targeted and is immediately returned to the water, there is no violation.

If you are fishing for crappies or perch and find yourself only or repeatedly catching a fish for which the season is closed, it is best to change your tactics or location to minimize the impact on that species during their time needed to spawn, and stay on the right side of the law.

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Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit. Send your questions to outdoors@duluthnews.com .

Related Topics: FISHING
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