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MinnesotaBoatman

Pelican Lake Regulations

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From the Timberjay:

Opinion split over regulations on Pelican Lake

By Tom Klein

A majority support managing Pelican Lake to produce larger-size northern and bass, but differ on the methods for achieving that goal.

That was the message that emerged out of a public meeting attended by 19 people in Orr. The Oct. 25 meeting was held by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to gather public input on experimental regulations set to expire on March 1, 2008.

Two-thirds of those attending the meeting agreed the lake should be managed to produce more large-size pike and bass, but were split on how to proceed. “There was no consensus,” said DNR area fisheries manager Kevin Peterson, who said support was evenly divided among three options — extend the rules, modify them or drop them. “Everyone wants the big fish, but they don’t agree on how to go about it. The devil is in the details.”

Experimental regulations have been in place on Pelican Lake since 1998 and were designed to address concerns about an abundance of small pike and bass in the lake.

The northern pike rule requires the immediate release of all pike from 24 to 32 inches. Anglers are allowed to keep one northern pike over 32 inches in a possession limit of three.

The bass regulation protects smallmouth and largemouth bass from 14 to 20 inches, with one bass over 20 inches allowed in possession.

The regulations have had the intended effect, according to Peterson. “We did an extensive review and it shows pretty clearly that size and distribution of those species have all improveds since the regulation was first implemented in 1998.”

One of the chief concerns about the rules is the impact on spearing northern pike. “People said that it’s difficult to selectively spear and avoid fish in that protected slot,” said Peterson. Even accidentally spearing a fish in the protected slot could result in a fine from a conservation officer.

But despite criticism, the DNR also has heard support for extending the regulations. Peterson noted that in creel surveys last year, 85 percent of the people interviewed on the lake favored extending the regulations.

In addition, Peterson said that he received a petition that supports extending the regulations. Although some have said support for the regulations comes largely from the resort community and tourists, Peterson said the petition, which was circulated around Orr, included a number of local addresses.

Regulations to manage fish populations to produce more large-size fish are not uncommon but usually focus on walleyes in this region. Rainy Lake, Kabetogama and Crane Lake all have protected slots for walleyes. Pelican is unique in that the protected slots are for northern and bass.

“That’s because Pelican is more suited ecologically for northern and bass,” Peterson said. “It has a lot of really good habitat for those species, so that’s why they are the management focus there.”

The DNR will continue to take public comment on the regulations through Nov. 5. Comments can be sent to the DNR Area Fisheries Office at 392 Highway 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649 or e-mailed to kevin.peterson@dnr.state.mn.us. Comments can also be delivered by phone by calling (218) 286-5220.

A decision on the regulations is expected by Dec. 1, according to Peterson.

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They are good rules and they should keep them in place. The bass fishing is great and the Pike are starting to get bigger. Most people that bass fish throw them back anyways, so I dont see what the big deal is. If they really want to have bigger pike, they should go ahead and ban spearing...that would be a great idea statewide anyways, IMO.

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