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BigDogRob

New possible slot limit in the works?

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BigDogRob

I was listening on the radio and heard that there is a possible slot limit change possibly in the works for Leech lake... If I heard it correctly one of the options would basically match URL's 20" slot limit... This could turn out to be an interesting winter if it is changed right around ice season!

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Jeanne1

Eighteen inches isn't good enough?

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Gofishleech

Eighteen inches isn't good enough?

My thoughts exactly!!

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fishfurfun

Believe it or not, they are saying that there are too many walleyes in Leech Lake and the proposed slot will eliminate some of the larger fish competing for forage. I always buy a conservation license. Guess it isn't necessary for Leech.

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Jeanne1

Who is saying that?

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leechlake

The DNR is saying it, there was a rather large article in the Star and Tribune regarding numbers of fish and shrinking baitfish population. I think one concern is a Mille Lacs like situation of skinny walleye syndrome (SWS).

I'm in the camp of not micro-managing or attempting to fool with Mother Nature. I wouldn't be opposed to it but it seems that lakes naturally take care of things better than us Humans have proved to do, in many instances. The thing is that it seems we have good intentions in lowering Cormorant population, giving the lake a boost with stocking for the first time, slot limits and then we want to protect our investment in both the dollars and the work and ideas that were put in place. That can turn into bobbing when we should be weaving and on and on.

Trying to manage a lake this size with so many factors at play is a tall task.

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fishfurfun

Here is the article.

Leech Lake’s walleye population is now so high that state resource managers likely will relax fishing regulations next year, making it easier for anglers to keep more fish.

Officials want anglers to take more walleyes from the 175-square-mile lake. Spurred by the current 18- to 26-inch protected slot, the lake’s walleye biomass is at a near-record high — and is having negative impacts on the fishery.

“Currently we’re seeing thinner walleyes,” said Matt Ward, Department of Natural Resources large lake specialist. “Walleye condition has declined over the past four or five years.”

The number of spawner walleyes also is at a 26-year high. All of those fish are having an impact.

“We have seen a decline in yellow perch for five consecutive years,” Ward said, noting cormorants — whose population on the lake has been reduced in recent years by conservation officials because of concerns the birds were overfeeding on fish — are not driving that trend. “It’s a strange thing to say, but we have too many walleyes and too much walleye biomass in the lake.”

So the agency likely will propose relaxing the protected slot to 20 to 26 inches. It is taking public comment.

One of the reasons for the high walleye population is anglers haven’t returned in the numbers that existed before the walleye population dwindled in the early 2000s.

“We picked a slot limit anticipating harvest and angling pressure that we had seen in the early 2000s and 1990s would continue,” Ward said. “We haven’t seen that; we haven’t seen the anglers return.”

Larry Anderson, a longtime guide who lives on the lake and is a member of the advisory committee, said the slot relaxation would be an improvement, but he and others are hoping the agency could simply allow one walleye over 20 inches — the statewide regulation.

“It makes more sense,” he said. “There’s a lot of confusion, I think, whether here or at Rainy Lake or Winnie, over the protected slots.”

Fishing on Leech was great in June and July, he said, but many of the walleyes were in that protected slot and had to be released. Fishing pressure won’t increase until anglers can routinely keep some fish to eat, he said.

The DNR is holding a local public open house meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 in Walker, and Sept. 25 at DNR headquarters in St. Paul. Comments also can be submitted until Oct. 18 by e-mail to doug.w.schultz@state.mn.us, or by telephone at (218) 547-1683.

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

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Jeanne1

So, control Mother Nature by lowering the bird population but have no slot?

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leechlake

if it's true that there aren't as many anglers as was projected I don't see how loosening the slot 2 inches will solve the problem, at least on its own.

I believed back when things stunk that the best way to get the population back would be to have the fishing so brutal that people left the lake alone and fished elsewhere. Throw in thinning cormorants and stocking and the walleye is back on Leech.

Maybe I'm a good example of what happened. I got so tired of the bad walleye fishing that I started fishing other lakes. I rarely have to deal with many people at boat ramps, which happened at Leech a bit, and I don't have to be overly concerned with weather conditions and 4 foot rollers, and smaller lakes means less moving 3-4 mile at a time through rough water like I'd do on Leech on a normal basis.

I still love Leech Lake and all the things that it offers but found other options. If I was a guide I'm sure I'd have Leech as my main body of water to fish for so many reasons.

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JakeJ_Mn

A few days ago, I was approached by a fisheries biologist at Leech Lake. He was asking opinions and offering info on the new proposed slot limit starting next year on Leech.

I have fished on Leech through the good and the bad over the last 40 years. Although better now, I still chuckle when I hear Leech Lake is back - it's NOT. I was told the reason for the change is too many walleye - again I chuckled - this summer I have fished approx. 75 days so far. Yes I did limit several times, but many times this took many hours. Yes I did catch many fish 18 inches to 20 inches, which all went back.

The DNR fooled with the slot on Mille Lacs and see where that has taken them.

If the slot changes it will be in effect for 2 years. A lot of damage can be done in that amount of time.

I believe this approach is wrong and the DNR is only trying to appeal to the complaints of out of state tourists. They did the same when the perch limit was reduced from 50 to 20. The tourists complained it wasn't worth a trip to Minnesota for only 20 perch per person - so the DNR raised the possession limit to 40 - another mistake.

Fishing is a privilege and catching is a bonus. Stay home is you don't like the rules - it's not worth ruining our lakes. Buy hamburger instead. Just my opinion.

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Gofishleech

I agree with JakeJ on this. I have been fishing leech for 30+ years and guiding for just over 20. I have had a great year with lots of limit days but to say the lake has too many walleyes??? I just don’t think so. Now with that said I didn’t have a great year last year and was a little concerned about the walleye population. I have a leech lake fish specialist near me and he said the walleyes were in good numbers last year and I dint believe him but was proven wrong this year. Although the majority of fish this year were small, plenty good size for keeper fish but on the small side but great numbers. With the numbers of year classes seemingly present I don’t see the need to pull 18s to 20s out of the lake. There seem to be plenty of keepers size fish. Ok now with all that said I have seen much better years on leech before the birds and the slots. The fall bite has been more sporadic,, later and not near what it was 10+ years ago. I have seasonal patterns and locations that held strong for many years. This year and few seasons past I have had to change things up a bit in location. I don’t think the walleye are as numerous as they are claiming but I am no biologist and was wrong in my thoughts about last season so who knows. I just know I had a very good year but I have seen much better. There are lots of areas and structure types that should have more fish IMO. Before the walleye crash mid-September was the beginning of the fall bite and it was tremendous. The fall bite as of late has been later and not near as good. I think the schools are smaller in numbers and less locations hold fall fish. I don’t fish in the evenings or at night anymore and I know the anglers that do are getting good numbers of fish so I could be wrong on my thoughts and am just old-school but I hope these new regs and over population stats are not just a ploy to increase tourism. We will see how this fall plays out.

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fishfurfun

I agree. We should never empty our lakes to fill our freezers. Like I said previously, I buy a conservation License and still have plenty of fish for a fish fry. A 40 perch limit, why? That is more than anybody needs to take home. I don't think the regulars are having as much of a problem catching as the average Joe who only is up there occasionally. That has more to do with knowledge not population. Those are the people who catch a lot of slot fish and want something to take home. I can understand that but we still need to protect our fishery. The lake is overpopulated? I can't agree to that. Why don't they just say one fish over 18 if they want to get some of the larger fish out and drop the biomass? Might have more to do with tourism.

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creepworm

I haven't fished leech in a long time but from what I am reading, they are not saying there are too many walleye, they are saying there is too much walleye biomass. Very different things. 20 five pound fish is equal to 100 1 lb fish. That could very well explain the fishing not being as good for numbers, there is less fish, but more lbs of walleye in the lake, resulting in low baitfish populations.

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leechlake

Jackrabbit. I'm 100% Minnesotan but once again South Dakotans (SD Game Fish and Parks and you) have accurate answers. Good point on the biomass. Ask the SDGFP to come to Minnesota and help us, I have more faith in them.

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