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Thoughts on keeping crappies,slot limits and what not


markkstanley

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Been some discussion in a couple of topics on this. Da Chise has a great post over the East Central forum on it and bag limits. I wish it was simple to get slab crappies or bull gills in every Metro lake but it isn't. Releasing the bigger fish is a good thing in my book but the overall impact will be small on most lakes.

I lived in the South for awhile where you couldn't keep any crappies under 9" and most guys wouldn't consider anything under 10". On top of that there were no possession limits. Because of the growing conditions there, it wasn't difficult for a knowledgable fisherman to catch slabs even though huge amounts of big crappies were taken out every spring. Not true up here. Read the DNR lake surveys and you'll get the picture. The majority of the crappies on Minnetonka are just going to be those 6 to 8 inch fish. The biomass of these and the 4 to 6 inch blue gills just overwhelms the available forage base reducing the potiential for large panfish. (Makes for well fed muskies though :D)

If I want a crappie meal, I clean the 8 to 9 inch fish. Anything over 9" goes back. That's my rule and it would be great if everyone decided to do the same. However, it is a personal decision. Let's not blast any FMer who decides to keep the larger fish, or mentions he kept a limit or even posts the lake he had success on no matter how small. Funny thing about those "overfished" small lakes. The crowd moves on and you'll find the lake rebounds a few years later. Simple math - the big fish are gone but the forage base remains. Those smaller surviving fish have little competition and will grow quite quickly. This rule applies to panfish not apex predators like pike, walleyes and bass - the larger fish in those populations need all the protection we can give them.

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Nice topic. I agree with you Mark. On some of the out-state lakes I fish on, I go with 10-11 1/2" for crappies. But here in the Metro, which I don't icefish alot anymore, but used to, I would agree with your 8-9" slot. I used to be, but am not anymore, embarrassed to keep a meal of what used to be considered small fish, as long as I'm putting back a few of the next size up. Keeping only the biggest might not be beneficial.

The important thing is to remember to have a top and bottom that "fits" the lake your on. I'm not smart enough or articulate enough to explain to most, but if I'm on a lake that's most giving up 8-9 inches with the less common 10-11'er, and I want a meal, I'll keep a few of 8-9"rs and let the 10-11s back. DIFFERENT LAKE - If I'm catching mostly 10 inchers, with the rare 11-12, I'll keep the 10's and release the 11-12"rs. It may take a while to figure out, but simply put, I put back the ones that "stick out" for that particular lake, and the dinks, and keep a few of the average ones. Hope this makes sense.

I agree with you on the apex fish, too. Good reminder. I believe the above average (large) northerns, walleyes, bass and muskies need all the protection we can give them. To add, if the "apex" population is in order, a lake has a better chance of rebuilding a panfish population of catchable fish if it gets fished down. Otherwise, it seems to be stunted panfish only for along time.

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Well said, Mark.

I've never made any impact on the panfish populations because I'm too lazy to clean fish more than 2-3 times a year. wink

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Ya, I may keep a few to fry here and there, but its back down the hole for most of them. I couldnt care if there was a slot but I wonder how well enforcment would go with that. If you have been to some of the area lakes in the spring, buckets of fish leave the shallows and channels(especially at french park on medicine) with no regard to species and size.

I would like to see the size of fish increase just like everyone else so its all ok with me. I just want to be there when the dnr tries to make enforce it. It would be interesting to say the least.

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Pretty soon with the way things are going there are going to be no fish. It seems with the economy ythe way it is people are resorting to fishing and keeping everything that bites for there food because they cant afford the supermarket. Something needs to be done slots all around I knlow that it will stink but a least you are going to be able to fish in the metro 5 to 10 years from now. Im telling ya from the stand point of a fish and the people ive talked to i would want to be fish in the northern part of the state, people dont have the money to come catch me when the metro runs out. And if people dont think its going to happen I think its happening right know.

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Pretty soon with the way things are going there are going to be no fish. It seems with the economy ythe way it is people are resorting to fishing and keeping everything that bites for there food because they cant afford the supermarket.

Not disagreeing or agreeing with you on this one. Only stating an observation that has me curious. I just got done reading very similar sentiment from a sportsman from "up North" on the Walleye/Perch forum stating his personal slot limit is going to increase on both ends because of the economy and the way it's headed.

I don't understand that. How does the economy effect that? I'm not disagreeing with it, just don't understand it.

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I would LOVE to see a slot limit on crappies, especially in the spring when they are spawn and are easy to catch. Im thinkin everything 10-14 inches go back. thats just my opinion. I don't even keep fish while they are spawning so what do I know.

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Not disagreeing or agreeing with you on this one. Only stating an observation that has me curious. I just got done reading very similar sentiment from a sportsman from "up North" on the Walleye/Perch forum stating his personal slot limit is going to increase on both ends because of the economy and the way it's headed.

I don't understand that. How does the economy effect that? I'm not disagreeing with it, just don't understand it.

I guess the logic behind it is if someone keeps larger or smaller fish than they normally would they can bring more food home and then they can cut costs at the grocery store.

I dont keep many fish since I dont want to clean fish most of the time but as far as keeping crappies I dont care much for big crappies fillets I like the bite size chips so most crappies I keep are between 8-11". Ive eaten a 13" crappie before, never again, small ones fry up way better!

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speaking of people around metro keeping buckets of potato chip size fish I was out my minnetonka a few years back and there were some a..well im not gonna say race, but they had buckets! of tiny tiny bluegills and crappies maybe they cook with them in their restaurants? but I was soooo P'd off I grabbed their buckets and threw em right into the bay ... OMG they were mad I couldnt tell what they said but BOY did I feel good.

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Hopefully this can stay on topic.

I'm guilty of steering it a bit off course with the economy / slot limit question. This topic is kinda interesting too, and has a thread started on the Outdoor Discussions Forum at the bottom of page.

My apologies Mark.

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I'm fishing on lakes that have a 10 panfish total limit...Crappies , sunpike, chirp..10 total...I see a difference in quality!!!!

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Excellent post topic,Mark.I am on the same page as you guys,if and when I do keep fish, its the 8-9". A lot of people wont keep anything unless its at least 10",and IMO,2" in the frying pan isnt a noticeable difference, but 2" for the livlihood of a lake,thats a different story.Those 10"and up are the fish we need to keep those fish reproducing,because those little suckers do consume a lot of the available forage. honda4life,I know exactly where you are coming from and have seen it dozens of times-very sad.

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I wouldn't mind seeing a slot. Maybe stay with the 10 fish limit. Slot anything to 10" keep. Maybe do something like Mille lacs with one fish you could keep over 14" (or something like that for a trophy).

I do replicas, so they all go back anyway.

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Regarding the "bucket brigade" I will disagree with most. We need those small potato chips removed if we are ever going to get Metro lakes revived for large panfish. The schools of 4" sunnies on Tonka are immense. Again a lake can only support a given amount of biomass - whether it 2 10" fish or 30 4". Those small fish will never grow to slab size if there are too many of them. These small fish are processed into fish cakes by the way and we should not harass anyone who is within the law.

I suggest everyone go the DNR lakefinder site and read the 2007 survey for Minnetonka. Appears milfoil is not that great for the fishery as many have supposed. ALso points out some interesting things like the lack of natural walleye reproduction.

I think a good point has been made that the current economy will be putting increased pressure on our lakes as more fish are kept for the dinner table. Decreasing possession limits won't help there - the fish get eaten and some more will be caught the next day. Slots may help but that's a long process getting them approved. So again everyone let's be sensible and release the larger fish. As Goose89 pointed out the top of slot can differ from lake to lake but for me 9" crappie is it no matter what water I am fishing.

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I would be interested in trying out slot limits on some lakes but then I do think there should be more generous possession limits. I can't get enough meat off of 10 8" crappies to provide my family with a fish fry.

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In the past I've read similar threads. I don't want to stomp on this one but merely to point out that personal decisions on slot limits may be too simplistic.

I found a number of studies by various professional biologists at

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/fisheries/investigational_reports.html

Reading these studies takes some effort as many are PhD type pieces. One thing that stuck me was how incredibly complex the whole issue is. So many factors impact what occurs on a piece of water that coming up with generalizations is risky. I suggest that you go and check them out.

Another thing that struck me was how incredibly foolish it is to have polticians pulling strings to force the DNR to do things. Sorry, but what might be expedient for political purposes may not have a lot to do with good biology.

I am interested in what folks think after they've checked out a few of the studies about what could/should happen on metro lakes.

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Issue with metro lakes is an abundance of milfoil coupled with high pressure. So first of all, the small prey fish have TONS of hiding places, and then there is immense pressure on the larger fish by anglers. Reduced pressure from large predators coupled with increased pressure on the large fish is hard on the mature panfish population. Plus, as Mark said, the carrying capacity is only so high, and once you get enough biomass and you hit that capacity, you get stunted panfish.

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I would be interested in trying out slot limits on some lakes but then I do think there should be more generous possession limits. I can't get enough meat off of 10 8" crappies to provide my family with a fish fry.

bring your family with you then you can keep 10 fish for each person in your family... sounds like a good meal to me

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I would be interested in trying out slot limits on some lakes but then I do think there should be more generous possession limits. I can't get enough meat off of 10 8" crappies to provide my family with a fish fry.

We usually do a fry when we've got limits of crappies and sunnies too. Then there's enough fillets to go around for everyone.

I throw back crappies over 10", but maybe I should reduce that to 9". The span of my fingers is about 9", so that would be an easy way to quickly measure.

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I should add that I really enjoy catching sunnies, and would be in favor of any sort of slot or limit reduction that would help increase the sizes on metro lakes.

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Just me, I'm sure I'm in an extremely small boat here, but if a statewide C+R on every species all year long were imposed I wouldn't complain. Throw em back, give it 10 years, and let the lakes do what they'd been doing for thousands of years prior to the chubby darter. other than a few stocking programs for non-fertile lakes. I do keep fish every once in a while for a meal, selectively I might add, but that is mostly because I get pressure from family members so often to bring them home a meal that I break in once every couple months. I enjoy catching fish so much incredibly more than eating them though, seeing people hauling a 5 gallon bucket full of fish home makes me very sad.

I think the biology of a lake is very diverse and difficult for humans to understand, it is obvious that fishing pressure has a huge impact, i just wish there was more education because people just don't realize what they are doing when they keep the larger fish.

I know closing seasons won't happen, nor would it really be a good idea for all the money generated through fishing in this state, but I would fully support slots, lowering possession limits for lakes under a certain acreage, or anything else that keeps more fish in the lakes for us and future generations to have a chance to enjoy. Rather than the one time enjoyment of a full belly. my 2 cents.

Why is it in Minnesota when you show about 60% of the population a picture of you holding a 40 inch muskie they ask, did you eat it? To me it seems there needs to be better education on our relationship with our extremely fragile natural surroundings.

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You should come up here, our best Crappie lake has a minimum of 11 inches to keep them. It [PoorWordUsage] you off sometimes, but we are getting bigger fish over time.

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Adam, I've often wondered what would happen if we just left a fishery alone for a while. Would be interesting to find out. I fear, though, that once the lake was "open" again for fishing, it would get pounded so hard by agnglers wanting the bigger fish that it would soon return it it's old self with the smaller fish.

However, I know there are a few "Heritage" lakes around the state with very restictive regulations, and the fish are definitely larger. I'd certainly be in favor of increasing the number of these lakes, even to include some of the smaller metro lakes like Riley, Parley, etc.

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However, I know there are a few "Heritage" lakes around the state with very restictive regulations, and the fish are definitely larger. I'd certainly be in favor of increasing the number of these lakes, even to include some of the smaller metro lakes like Riley, Parley, etc.

Great idea. The bass fishing on a particular SW metro lake has definately benefited from a "100% C & R" ban on it for several years now. Great lake to not only C&R, but CPR, also. I'm not sure the "tourism" based businesses would go for the aforementioned "1 yr statewide ban", and might be a bit drastic, with some lake needing the harvest of smaller fish, but I like the "outside the box" thinking. We need more of it. I don't believe our lakes / fisheries, even with DNR help, are gonna keep up without some form(s) of restrictive harvest regulations on more lakes. I love the idea of a dozen "C&R" lakes around the metro. Good luck.

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I wonder what would be better? A slot limit, minimum size, or a maximum size? I can think of ways that all would benifit the fishery but I really don't know what would work the best. Im curious to hear what people think about that. I know the slot at mille lacs has helped the walleyes but panfish are different all together. I am game for whatever would help the fishery.

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I wonder what would be better? A slot limit, minimum size, or a maximum size? I can think of ways that all would benifit the fishery but I really don't know what would work the best. Im curious to hear what people think about that. I know the slot at mille lacs has helped the walleyes but panfish are different all together. I am game for whatever would help the fishery.

As a self-proclaimed armchair biologist, I really don't know what's best either. Like you, I've got alot of ideas that I think would be better, but don't know for sure. My C&R / Selective Harvest practices have changed a couple of times over the years. Different level (baitfish,panfish,first tier predators, second tier predator, apex predators) fish and different types of lakes, need different types of protection, I think. Makes proper management confusing.

I also believe lakes, over time, manage / balance themselves out (predator, prey, year class size,ect), IF we don't overharvest them.

What is overharvest?? I don't know. The law has some guidelines. But I think that bar falls way below what the law would allow us as a group to do, if we wanted to do that.

I, too, am game for whatever helps the fishery. Those more in the know, I'm open to suggestions. I've already dropped, in my head, my crappie slot to 9". I can't wait to show up to the cleaning how this spring (annual camping trip to state park with good crappie fishing) and show off my 9" crappies and maybe explain to someone why I do what I do.

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