Current Minnesota northern pike regulations will remain in effect this winter, but major changes will become effective with the May 12 fishing opener next spring.
The changes will include three northern pike zones with different limits and length regulations for each zone.
• In the northeast zone, anglers will be able to keep two pike and must release all from 30 to 40 inches, with only one over 40 inches allowed in possession. Spearers also will be able to take two pike but only one may be longer than 26 inches.
• In the north-central zone, which will cover much of the state, the issue is overpopulation of small pike. Anglers in this zone will be able to keep 10 northern pike but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches, and all from 22 to 26 inches must be released. Spearers in the zone may take one pike between 22 and 26 inches and one longer than 26 inches, or two over 26 inches and none between 22 and 26 inches, and up to eight more under 22 inches; or nine under 22 inches and one over 26 inches; or 10 under 22 inches.
• In the southern zone, the goal is to increase pike abundance and improve the size of fish harvested. Anglers and spearers will be able to keep two fish with a minimum size of 24 inches.
Spearing season opened Nov. 15, and pike fishing remains open until Feb. 25. Current statewide regulations including the daily and possession limit of three northern pike are still in effect. So, too, are special and experimental regulations listed for specific waters in the 2017 Minnesota Fishing Regulations. For more information on the new zone regulations, visit dnr.state.mn.us/pike/index.html.
Records set at Hawk Ridge
Counters at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth have wrapped up their seasonal count, and records were set for a couple of species during this fall's migration.
A total of 6,099 bald eagles were observed in this fall's count from Aug. 15 to Nov. 30, according to the observatory's website. That broke last year's record of 5,925 bald eagles.
The total of 1,123 rough-legged hawks was also a record, topping the previous record of 1,026 in 1994.
The most common raptors seen in the count, as is nearly always the case, were broadwings. A total of 38,624 were counted this fall, far below the all-time record of 160,703 counted in 2003. In that year, nearly 102,000 broadwings were counted in a single day, Sept. 15.
In all, just over 80,000 raptors were counted at Hawk Ridge this fall.
“That’s higher than our past five fall season raptor counts,” said Janelle Long, executive director of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. “We counted approximately 15,000 more raptors this year, with the bulk of those attributed to the higher broad-winged hawk count.”