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HansB

Three and a half inches of walleye

24 posts in this topic

Back when the slot regulations for Vermilion were being finalized a lot of guys whose opinion I respect were of the thought that the 4-fish, 17-26" slot was a good proposal. I tended to agree with them (mainly because most of them are more 'in tune' with the lake than me, and I respect their judgement).

Besides, the proposed regulations really wouldn't affect me very much since I've long limited my harvest to a few "eaters", always returning larger fish to the lake.

Now, after almost a full season with the regulations under my belt, I've come to a new opinion.

First, I absolutely support the concept of controlling the harvest to keep the population healthy. Therefore, I have no argument with the 4-fish limit. I think that's a fundmentally good rule.

It's the size slot that I think needs a long hard look. Here's why.

Most fishermen don't consider a walleye less than 13-inches as a keeper. We call them dinks, cobs, cigars, and other disparging names.

Also, given a 17-inch upper size limit, most fishermen won't keep anything over 16.5" because of the stories of fish "relaxing" in the livewell and gaining a half-inch or more in length and inadvertently becoming illegal.

Thus we are really fishing for fish in a narrow 3.5" window between 13-inches and 16.5-inches.

Now for guys like me fish the lake all summer long, and keep just a few eaters, that's really not a big deal.

But my eyes kinda got opened this past week. On two successive nights I was fishing an offshore hump on the west end. Just coincidently on both those nights I found myself in the company of a party of three boats (6 fisherman) on their annual Vermilion "boys week out" from Illinois.

Fishing was excellent --- the big mamas were chowing down to fatten up for winter! Between the seven of us on Monday and Tuesday evening combined we boated numerous (more than 40) walleye. Of those fish, exactly FIVE fish were legal. (Now I'm not saying this experience is typical, but neither do I think it's unusual.) I just think it provides a graphic illustration of the "three and a half inches" problem. Around 10-15% of our catch were legal to keep. The rest of the fish were in the range of 18" to 22" with one 25"-er.

Discounting me, those 6 guys from Illinois easily pumped $3,000-$4,000 into the local economy, plus bought 6 expensive non-resident licenses from our DNR. I don't think they're getting their moneys worth!

OK, so if I'm going to this length to complain, ya might ask if I have a better idea. Well, surprise, I DO have a better idea.

It goes like this. Keep the 4-walleye limit. And impose a "cumulative inches" limit also, of 64 inches.

Within that limit you could harvest any combination of 4 or less walleyes whose cumulative length did not exceed 64 inches, only one fish over 24" allowed. Here are some possible examples you could keep:

Four 16-inchers (total 64")

Three 13-inch dinks, and a 25-incher and (4 fish total 64")

A 30-inch trophy and two 17-inchers (3 fish total 64")

Now naturally mother nature isn't going to make the math always come out precisely 64" as shown in my examples, but given a limit of "four fish or 64-inches, whichever comes first" the typical fisherman would have a lot more flexibility in "what to keep", while still meeting the goal of a safe level of harvest to keep the population healthy.

Not being a fishery biologist, my suggestion may violate some fundamental principle of conservation, but it sure seems more attractive than fishing in a 3.5" window.

Whatta ya think, guys?

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Those 17" - 26" fish are the target of the slot because those are typically female and usually the prime breeding fish. The goal of the slot is to protect that breeding population and not allow any of that segment to be removed. Total length would still have the potential for a population crash if enough of those slot/breeding fish were removed.

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Quote:

Those 17" - 26" fish are the target of the slot because those are typically female and usually the prime breeding fish. The goal of the slot is to protect that breeding population and not allow any of that segment to be removed. Total length would still have the potential for a population crash if enough of those slot/breeding fish were removed.


That's one of the many explanations I've heard too, but never from the DNR.

In any case it is irrelevant to my proposal, because the proposal would not target any particular size, but rather spread the fishing pressure between the guy who wanted a couple of large fish, or several smaller fish.

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Hans,

I RESPECTFULLY have to disagree with you on this. I do mean respectfully, as you are a great "Vermilion Guy", and an excellent angler.

However, I think that your proposal is not realistic, in terms of enforcement. It would be self-governing at best, and having a CO measuring and adding up inches from a livewell, also considering the "culling" factor would be unrealistically unenforceable.

I understand the scenario which you present. However, I think the solution is different. Target smaller fish. We have not had any problem getting "eater" size fish here. I mean the "3.5" fish. They are out there in great numbers and are biting well. Your evenings on the hump is what I would call an outstanding time of fishing here on Vermilion, but not at all common. If that were the case day in and day out, then I could see the need to relax the limits. When it becomes a problem is when the bite is really slow and all you catch is one or two fish that are in the slot, over a few days. Though I do support the new regs, how about this as a possible solution:

4 Fish one over 17"

This would have given you 19 keepers in the two nights of fishing.

Just another idea.

Doug

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I'm not a biologist or anything along those lines, but I'd just like to offer what I've seen work very well.

We've fished the Canada side of Rainy Lake for nearly 25 years now. About 10 years or so ago, they enforced a slot where you could keep fish from 13.75" to 17.75" but all the others had to be released except for one may be over 27.5". They reduced the possession limit quite a bit, but it only took about 3 years and there was a walleye explosion that I had never seen before on that lake. There was such a great mix of age/size classes. It became easy (yes, easy!) to catch fish in the keeper range, plus have fun with fish over the 17.75" mark (many in the 24" - 26" range).

And, for the past 3-4 years now, we are seeing more of the bigger mamas show up, the 28" - 31" fish. I think the 4-fish limit is great. I'd even favor it on a state-wide basis. But, just from personal experience, I've seen how well the size limits worked for Rainy. Perhaps something similar would work for Vermilion??? They seem to be relatively similar lakes.

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I understand where Hans is coming from, ran into some guys up from Indy for a few days of fishing. Fishing was slow and they didn't know the lake that well. They shared their fustration simliar to Hans, however they agreed that there was some sort of regulation needed to maintain/enhance this great fishery. They felt the 4 fish limit was good, but felt that if one of the four that fell into the solt could be kept, that might ease some of the frustration.

The slot limit is only as good as it adhered to/enforced, as we well know some don't.

As of recent, I have seen several intances where a boat comes along side another boat and fish are handed off and the boat then takes of, make me kind of wonder?

MY 2 cents,

Backwoods cool.gif

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As I have stated in numerous previous post, I am not a big fan of the current walleye slot. I still think it needs to allow for one fish over 17 inches, instead of the 17-26 protected and one over 26. It allows for poorly played or gut hooked fish to be tossed back into the drink, no questions asked. I too want to see this great resource protected. If I didn't have a cabin on the lake, I would even be MORE against the current slot. I do feel sorry for those people who come up to this great lake, only to catch nice walleyes they can't keep.

I think that by making it a one over 17, you still protect most of the breeding aged females, but also allow for someone to keep a guthooked or mishandled fish. It also allows those who do not get to fish the lake often to keep an occasion bigger fish for a meal. Maybe a 13-17 slot, with one fish from 18-21? One 1-20 inch fish would make a good meal.

Hypothetical: would you rather someone keep one 18-21 inch walleye, or 3 at 13 inches? The amount of meat on the fish would be similar.

The only one over 17 rule would allow for everything we are all looking for. Protecting the breeding females from overharvest, allowing people to keep a larger fish for a meal(not everyone is as lucky as us and able to be on the lake most weekends) and makes it possible to keep an injured fish. I think it is pretty simple in my book.

For early/late season meat hunters-fish for smaller northerns in the shallow bays. A 2-4lb Northern provides plenty of meat and you cant tell the difference between it and walleye if it comes out of relatively cold water.

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Please, enough of the arm chair quarterbacking. This is worse than the morning after a bad Vikings game. Why does it seem so many of us think we are qualified fisheries biologists (even when we admit we are not)?

What's important is whether the Illinois boys think they are getting their moneys worth, not you. This sounds like your issue not theirs.

I sure hope that taking two less fish (or inches) home will not be the deciding factor in their decision to visit Vermilion again. If it is, maybe they should take the bucket mentality and go somewhere else.

I would like to think they are attracted by the overall Vermilion experience and spending time on great waters with good friends. Does that seem strange?

I just got back from 4 days of trout fishing in Montana with a good friend and our two sons. We caught a lot of fish, and didn't kill a one. In fact I haven't killed a fish in the 25 years I've fished in Montana. I go back most years, spend too much money, and throw all the fish back. I more than get my moneys worth.

If you're worried about all of us maybe it's time for us to forget the trips, sell the cabins, boats, and tackle and head to the super market. Walleye probably sells for around $10 a pound. We'd get a lot more fish flesh for the dollar if we'd fill up the bucket there.

Give it some time, enjoy your fishing, take some to eat, and let's give it a rest.

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Doug,

Likewise, you're one of the guys whose "opinion I respect".

Your message raises several good discussion points.

Quote:

Though I do support the new regs, how about this as a possible solution:

.

4 Fish one over 17"

.

This would have given you 19 keepers in the two nights of fishing.


That "four fish, one over 17 inches" suggestion is as good as mine (maybe even better, but I'll never admit that!).

Quote:

However, I think that your proposal is not realistic, in terms of enforcement. It would be self-governing at best, and having a CO measuring and adding up inches from a livewell, also considering the "culling" factor would be unrealistically unenforceable.


Realistically, "self-governing" is all the enforcement we have on Vermilion. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that Minnesota anglers, almost without exception, are a shining example of "self enforcement". Yes, there is always a remote possibility of having your livewell checked but even if we knew we'd never be checked very few of us would break (or even 'stretch') the rules.

I've fished Vermilion for 35 years, and since I retired 5 years ago, I fish it a LOT! In all those springs and summers and falls of fishing, my boat has been visited by a game warden exactly ONCE about 10 years ago. (And I'd bet that he visited my boat only because my tall blonde daughter in a swimsuit was fishing from the stern platform. Two guys from Iowa in another boat about 10 rods away on the same structure weren't checked at all.)

So I don't think we can point at "enforcement problems" as a reason for (or against) any particular harvest plan. Regardless of the plan, if the DNR checks you all the fish in your boat would get measured and the only actual burden of my plan would be the warden would need to be educated enough to add all the way up to 64. I think most of them already can add that high in their head, but I'd gladly carry a calculator in my tackle box to assist them.

Quote:

However, I think the solution is different. Target smaller fish. We have not had any problem getting "eater" size fish here.


That's, in my opinion, unrealistic for a couple of reasons.

1) Reason #1 --- only a tiny minority of anglers on any given lake know how to selectively "target smaller fish". (Certainly not 6 old coots from Illinois!)

2) Reason #2 --- Even if you CAN select what size fish you'll catch, everytime we go out (all of us) we have this secret dream on hooking up with that "lifetime fish" about 32 inches long. There's no way on Gods green earth we'll specifically tailor our fishing habits to avoid catching big ones!

Bottom line:

"Four fish or 64-inches, whichever comes first", or....

"Four fish, one over 17-inches".

I could live with either plan.

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Quote:

Please, enough of the arm chair quarterbacking. This is worse than the morning after a bad Vikings game. Why does it seem so many of us think we are qualified fisheries biologists (even when we admit we are not)?

What's important is whether the Illinois boys think they are getting their moneys worth, not you. This sounds like your issue not theirs.


Regnar,

I see merit in all the arguments presented here, except your attitude of "shut up Hans, and quit fishing if you don't agree with the DNR".

Please present some reasoned and civil arguments if you can. If you can't, have the courtesy to allow the rest of us our discussion. Thank you.

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Hans, I am going to go out on a limb and say that if the only reason they are fishing is to take home meat, they are fishing for the wrong reasons. I do take home fish to eat(I really like fresh fish), but it is nowhere close to the only reason I go fishing. I took my wifes brother in law out fishing on Big V a couple weeks ago and he never did catch a legal fish, but was sure smiling when he let those 21 to 23 inch fish go. grin.gif

I think as time goes on and the effects(hopefully positive) of the new regs come into play, we will see more of the eater size fish to take home.

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Quote:

Hans, I am going to go out on a limb and say that if the only reason they are fishing is to take home meat, they are fishing for the wrong reasons.


I agree with you 100%.

But where did I write "the only reason they (or I) go fishing is to take home meat"?

Go back and read my idea again ..... essentially it says:

--- continue the 4-fish limit.

--- if you want to harvest a bigger fish(es), then the limit (in numbers) might drop to 2 or 3 fish.

I'm only suggesting an alternate style of "slot" which still is far more restrictive than statewide 6-fish/no-slot regulation.

Look at it this way, then call my suggestion a "meat hunter" agenda (if you can).

The current 'statewide' cumulative 'length limit' is 144-inches (6 fish up to 24 inches) (or maybe 150 inches --- 5 24 inchers and a 30)

The current Vermilion cumulative 'length limit' is 68-inches (4 fish up to 17 inches) (or maybe 81 inches --- 3 17 inchers and a 30).

My suggested Vermilion cumulative 'length limit' is 64 inches and no more --- period.

In fact my suggestion is the MOST conservative of these three, but gives some flexiblilty over the current regulation by reducing the number of fish you keep if you elect to take larger fish.

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Hans,

No intent in telling you to shut up or to agree with the DNR. I'm just stating an opinion, like everyone does on this forum, including you.

Sorry, but I don't see the current slot discussions as "reasoned and civil arguments". I view them strictly as personal opinions of fisherman with no scientific basis to support them. The DNR might not be right, but at least there's some research to support their approach.

I appreciate your years of fishing experience, but as a scientist (I am a biologist) myself, I'm inclined to give the research based approach a chance. And I don't think four months is giving it a chance, the jury will be out for some time.

By the way, I'm no defender of the MN DNR and/or their policies (or lack of them). You certainly aren't required to agree with them, but sorry to say you've got less of a leg to stand than they do when it comes to managing fisheries.

I don't know if you read the rest of my post. The point I was trying to make is that some of us find "worth" in fishing for reasons other than filling the bucket. I eat my share of walleye, but I don't judge a successful day strictly by the number of fish I wack, sack, and pack on ice. And is it really about "getting your moneys worth"?

Personally, fishing this year has been just as enjoyable as last year. But maybe that's because I spend my time on and off of the water (until I responded to your post) thinking about things other than how the regs are impacting the inches of fish I kill.

That's it from me, to each his own, continue with the "discussion". Enjoy!

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Hans,

Don't worry about those boys getting their money's worth. A fishing license (resident or non resident)is not an investment vehicle measured by the numbers of fillets one expects he should be able to put in the freezer as a return!I'm sure those boys had a blast and (even if they could'nt find alot of slot eaters)they caught some nice fish to brag about didn't they?! I would much rather be able to fish (on a beautiful lake like Vermilion)_and catch fish I can't keep, than fish dead water(plenty of that in Illinois)and catch nada. The current regs were put in place to protect the future fishery by curtailing overharvest now. Chances are, if last years regs were still in place, a majority of those 40 plus released eyes probably would've ended up on a plate. Instead,they're still in there swimming and gettin bigger and sassier by the day...I like that!

Stizo

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Quote:

Please, enough of the arm chair quarterbacking. This is worse than the morning after a bad Vikings game. Why does it seem so many of us think we are qualified fisheries biologists (even when we admit we are not)?


Umm.... I have a degree in biology, all be it not fisheries biology but I did take ecology courses and aquatic biology... my wife is a fisheries biologist (her degree is in aquatic biology) and I consult with her often on fisheries issues. I hope something there would move me out of the ranks of arm-chair biologist grin.gif

And I am a fisherman who likes to eat fish every once in a while so I am disagreeing with you respectfully especially you "Vermillion Guys." Something that someday I will hopefully be considered one of myself.

I am all for that 17 - 26" protected slot. Even if only one over 17" in possession for a daily limit was permitted it is still allowing those fish to be removed from the population. Fishermen could go out and get one everytime they went and significantly reduce that segment of the population of walleyes.

I would really like to be able to dig up the research I read while I was at THE BEMIDJI STATE UNIVERSITY (a.k.a. BSU, this nations finest institute of higher learning grin.gif) that explained how slot limits were much more effective in sustaining populations than reduced bag limits were to be able to share it with the cadre here. But I haven't had any luck yet.

The unfortunate reality of gut hooked fish is just one of the downsides to this. Although, if fishermen would clip the line rather than rip on the hook that my curtail some of that.

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If I recall the argument in favor of slot limits, it goes sort of like this: The objective is to reduce the harvest to safe levels (I think the number is 64,000 lb for Vermilion that that is from memory) and it doesn't really matter the size distribution. The limit on recruitment probably isn't number of spawners. Reducing the numeric limit to limit harvest would require a limit of like 1 or 2 since it many folks only catch a couple anyway. A slot lets the limit be 4 without adding up to much total weight. The top lets folks keep a trophy if they choose to.

You will note that Milacs uses a variable slot to control harvest with no pretense of "protecting spawners".

The Canadians have the n walleye, 1 over 18 inches, as the system in Ontario, for what that is worth.

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Hans, Typically when there is a disagreement about the slot or the lower limit it is about what or how many fish someone can harvest from the lake. So one would have to assume that when there is grumbling about the slot or lower limits they are concerned about what or how much they can harvest from the lake. If that is not a concern there would be no concern over the slot or the lower limits. Don't really need to see it in writing that someone is concerned about what individuals can take from the lake in the way of numbers or size. I am not saying this as a slam, just a statement of how I (and probably others) interpret a grumbling about the slot or lower limit.

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Quote:

I am not saying this as a slam, just a statement of how I (and probably others) interpret a grumbling about the slot or lower limit.


I guess I need to take some remedial writing lessons down at the local elementary school, because this thread has certainly revealed a shortcoming in my ability to express myself!

I had no intent to "grumble" as some "would have to assume". I had no intent to start a fight (those who know me will agree that I'm a lover, not a fighter). I'm certainly not a "meat hunter" as several have alluded.

All I wanted to do was put forth for friendly discussion the notion of a different sort of way to regulate the harvest of walleye on Lake Vermilion.

Peace brothers, and have a nice rest of your life.

And, oh by the way, head on down to your local elementary school and take some remedial "assumption" lessons.

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I was born and raised in Illinois and I am an avid fisherman. Sadly enough, the fishing in this state is not much to speak of. Ever since I was 10 years old, my Dad started taking me up to the great northwoods for some good fishing. We fished Pelican Lake for about 15 years. As I grew older, I saw "meat hunters" destroy that lake. I can remeber catching 150-200 Bluegill a night, with a good majority of them over 10". As the years went by, so did the quality of fish. Now, I go to Vermilion every year. There are six of us. We have spent tens of thousands in gear, boats, etc. If fishing was all about "the bang for the buck", I would certainly be in a loosing situation. Someone mentioned earlier you can get walleye for $10 a pound. We come up for the relaxation and some nice fish. Every year we only keep enough to have one dinner together as a group, all the rest swim another day. I am now the Father of two small children of which I want to see them enjoy the same kind of fishing I did as a child. I guess all Im trying to say is that: You truly don't know what you have until its gone. Throw em back. If you want some walleye to eat, theres always the local supermarket.

wink.gif

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Good point HansB. After all, that is what this site is all about,..discusion.

I think it is clear that people fish walleyes for quite a few different reasons, but a primary reason is getting a meal of fish. The 3.5" range has put a definite crimp in that for many average fisherman (not the guides or the guided types), that represent the majority of people on the water. It has forced many of us to freeze fish here and there to get a meal.

While I support having regulations to protect the resource, I would be a lot more enthusiastic if the range was 19-28. By the way, just because a government agency makes a new regulation, it doesn't make it "right".

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This topic has been hashed over quite a bit since it was just a recommendation. Some are for some aren't... Just no way to please everyone. I am really not sure if it needed to have both a lower limit of 4 fish and a slot, but there are people studying what is being hatched and what is being taken out and I am sure their knowledge base is better than mine. I think in the long run it will be good for the lake, and if a few people choose not to fish for a while, then that is their choice.

I do think having the ability to keep one fish over the 17" mark would be a good thing cuz it makes me sick to my stomach thinking of throwing back a bleeding 18 inch or so walleye this going to be sea gull food in short order.

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I'm with Hans on this one.

I would actually prefer a two fish limit to any length restrictions. I don't get a lot of free time to fish up there (too busy fishing here grin.gif) but when I do, I sure would like to keep one or two for a meal. That's all I ask for 1 or 2.

It really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about my opinion, it's the law that matters.

I think it good to have a healthy discussion about it nonetheless.

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Kudos to Gone Fishing..my outlook EXACTLY.I want my kids to experience the great fishing I have.Ive fished Vermilion since I was about 9 grin.gif..alot of changes...but all for the better..we use to keep the northerns and eat them...but havent ate a fish out of the lake since I was about 16..I still prefer Minnesota and Lake Verm....over any lake in wisconsin....havent tried Canada yet...and your right fishing Ill. is very sad

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Not a Vermilion vetran by any means, but will give you my input. I fish the lake 3 times a year. Mostly because it's a lake that I can catch eyes on. My 1st experience on the lake with a guide/now good friend, sold me. It is now a lake with a slot. Doesn't bother me one bit. I drive 300 miles because I know I will catch walleyes. I have a good time up there. I think alot of it is with the company you fish with. I would have a great time even if we didn't catch fish. My main reason for posting, is I want to enjoy this with my 2 sons in the future. The slot is a good plan for my kids to enjoy this with me. Hans, your original post was not intended for the insight that was received. You were simply suggesting other options. I respect your post and in ten years I hope to live there and be your fishing buddy! I'm jealous as heck that you are there and I'm not. Joe

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