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Reservoir Dawg

Roch Reservoir Regulations

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Reservoir Dawg

OK. Here is the answer to the question alot of us have wondered about."why aren't there more fishing regulations to protect the fish populations in local reservoirs?"

I think Kevin Staufer does an excellant job of explaning the DNR's posisition.

Hello Jim,

Thanks for contacting us with your concerns about fishing in the Rochester area. I've heard similar comments from other anglers and we have had some discussion on this subject here at the office. While I think it may be reasonable to consider harvest regulations on some (or possibly all) of the reservoirs, we also need to make sure there are realistic expectations as to what regulations can or can't achieve.

First of all, I offer a friendly caution about assuming that everyone is catching lots of fish and that most anglers are harvesting a high percentage of what they catch. That might be happening, but it's always interesting to look at actual creel survey data (where we interview anglers to see how long they fished, what they caught, and kept, etc.). Most often those numbers are a lot lower than what you might guess. Ask anybody that has ever worked a creel survey and they will tell you that days with few anglers/few fish vastly outnumber the days with lots of anglers and lots of fish. That's not to say there isn't the potential of harvest problems, it just means that we can't take results of one day of fishing or the habits of one angler and expand it to what happens over the course of a season or across all anglers.

Biologically, some of the reservoir fisheries have habitat limitations that will dictate the type and quality of fishery that we can expect over the long term. For example, oxygen depletion in winter and summer is a very possible condition. In recent years, we have documented partial fish kills (summer and winter) on several local reservoirs. Winters have been mild the last few years, but sooner or later we can expect a long, cold MN winter with lots of snow and these reservoirs can definitely be impacted by winterkill. Spawning habitat availability is not the best for all species and food resources may also limit growth rates of some species. Predator/prey ratios can also be difficult to maintain in some situations. I could list more examples, but the point is that angler harvest is only one of many things that shape fish populations. We often use the toolbox analogy - pick the right tool for the job. You wouldn't grab a screwdriver to pound a nail or a hammer to turn a screw. Obviously diagnosing a fish community is not as easy as telling the difference between a nail and a screw, but we still like to start by understanding the problem before we try to fix it.

We use information on fish abundance, growth rates, angler harvest, and other parameters to develop and select regulations that will have the best chance at improving or maintaining a population. Given some of the habitat limitations listed above, we have taken a more limited approach in collecting fisheries data from some waters in the Rochester area. For example, we have reasonably good information from some waters (Willow reservoirs, Silver Lake) and very good (annual) data from Bear Creek Reservoir. Unfortunately we have not conducted any assessment work and have no information from the two reservoirs that everyone has been talking about the last two winters (KR 7 and Silver Creek). Without any data to work with, a regulation proposal would be an educated guess, at best. Should we grab a hammer, a screwdriver, or pliers? Note: The reason we have not done any assessment work on these two is very simple - there was not public access to them and we can not spend our publicly funded time and resources on waters that don't have public access. Now that there is public access, we will be scheduling fisheries assessments beginning in 2008.

Most of the experimental and special regulations we use in Minnesota are for individual waters and a particular fish species. To implement these regulations, we are required to go through a formal public input process for each regulation. If we are implementing an "experimental" regulation, we are generally required to evaluate each regulation for up to 10 years and then repeat the public input process before the regulation can be made permanent. The experimental regulations on Bear Creek Reservoir (Chester Woods) for bluegill and largemouth bass are a good example of the normal process we use to implement regulations. We have been evaluating these since they were implemented and the formal review (including a public meeting) of these regulations will occur in 2009. At that time we will need to decide whether to continue the regs as they are, or make modifications to them, or drop the regulations. So far it seems like these are having a positive effect and are popular among anglers. Hopefully, we can apply some of what we learn on Bear Creek Reservoir (BCR) to other fisheries in the Rochester area.

The recent discussion about Silver Creek Reservoir reminds me of just a few years ago when there was concern about BCR. I don't know if you were involved, but I'm sure others reading this will remember a meeting we had about ice fishing at BCR. I don't remember the exact year (Winter 2003-04?) but the bluegill bite was very hot and we were hearing many concerns that it was being "fished out." (Keep in mind, we already had the 10 fish bag /minimum size of 7" regulation in place). So there was a public meeting held and we probably had 80 to 100 people show up. It was a really good meeting. We got to hear from many anglers and they got to see some of the data we had been collecting on that fishery and what our plans were for managing it into the future. I think everyone, including us, walked away from that meeting with a much better understanding of what was happening. I have not heard of a "hot bite" like that on BCR since then and I would guess some people still think the reservoir got "fished out" out that winter. Because we have been collecting data regularly, we can show that in fact the bluegill population is in great shape and may even be a little better than what it was back then. So why hasn't the ice fishing been as good as it was that one winter? I wish I could give you a great answer, but then I would have solved one of the biggest mysteries of fishing and no one wants that to happen!

Sorry for the long response, but I know you want to post this on the Fishing Minnesota forums and I wanted to give as complete of response as possible. I think there are some good opportunities to maintain and enhance existing fishing opportunities in Rochester and I'm glad we have a interested anglers out there. Cascade Lake is another opportunity that will be coming soon and we will be working closely with the City and local anglers as that project moves along. I am always interested to hear what area anglers are thinking and I encourage them to give us a call or email with any questions or comments they might have. Thinking back to the BCR meeting from a few years ago, maybe something like that would be a good idea to consider later this winter? If there is a group interested, I would sure be interested in working with you to set something up.

In closing, I would also ask people to understand that we really can't respond directly to questions posted on web forums, as there are just too many of them out there for us to monitor and respond to. We're here Monday-Friday, 7:00-3:30 - so please give us a call or email directly.


Kevin Stauffer

Area Fisheries Supervisor

Minnesota DNR

1801 S. Oak Street

Lake City, MN 55041

Phone: 651-345-3365 (EXT 229)

Fax: 651-345-3975


>>> "Jim Mason" < jmason@greenway.coop > 12/13/2007 7:31 AM >>>

I tried to send this to the Lake City office but it wouldn't go.

Good mourning,

I've got to ask this question for myself and on behalf of a lot of

responsible fisherman in the Rochester area. Why are there no special

regulations to preserve the quality of fishing in the small reservoirs

around Rochester. Don't get me wrong I'm thrilled that we now have a lot of

opportunities to fish in an area that had almost nothing 20 years

ago.Correct me if I am wrong but aren't the limits a little high for small

bodies of water. I will gaurentee that the responsible fisherman would be

all for lower limits and possibly catch and release only. KR 7 used to be a

great place to fish until the Post Bulletin published a photo of some guys

with some real nice perch.The next thing you know the meat hunters swarmed

in and now it seems you can only catch 6" Perch 4"Gills and Crappies out

there. I've driven by Silver Creek Reservoir a few times this week and there

are a ton of shacks out there, it won't be long and it will be like KR 7.

Thanks for your time. I will share your response with the great bunch of

people that make up the responsible fishing community in the

Rochester area


Jim Mason

Rochester Mn

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Tyler Holm

One again Jim, A big thanks from all for your initiative in sending this initial note. I concur that Mr. Staufer did a stand up job with his response. Thank You Kevin.

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I also agree that Mr. Stauffer did a great job with that response. It was very informative and had great examples to back up his POV's.

Thanks for writing to him, Jim. I am interested in attending this meeting if you and and Kevin could set something up. It would be a great opportunity for all of us to understand that this is not all cut and dry and that the DNR does put alot of effort into these lakes, since most of us never get to see that side.

Wonder if they ever allow people to attend or watch them shock. It would be interesting and educational to see.


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