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Keeping 12 inch walleyes?


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Hi everyone!

I heard something interesting over the weekend. I was at the McLeod County Fair and visited the DNR fisheries booth and the DNR person was telling people that they should keep small walleyes. He basically was saying that you can keep any size walleye you want and it will not hurt the fishery.

I was really surprised by this. Especially coming from the DNR. He even went as far to say that protective slots don't help lakes. He said there is no conclusive evidence saying that the slots help lakes.

I would have to disagree with him on this. The lakes that have good natural reproduction, I beleive it is important to release those 3 to 7 pound fish because they are the best egg producers.

He basically was saying to keep all the 12 inchers you want.

What is everybody's thoughts on this?

Avid

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Leech and Winnie provide pretty doggone good evidence that slot limits can definitely help a lake.

Keeping 12" walleyes won't hurt a lake; keeping lots of 25" walleyes sure will.

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all depends on the lake

depends on size structure, fish assemblage, productivity, angler pressure, etc

i can think of pleny of places where keeping a lot of smaller fish would benefit the fishery and improve size structure.

its a lot better than keeping a bunch of bigger walleyes, which is usually what a slot limit is intended to prevent

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It seems like the lakes around here pretty much rely on stocking efforts and if a fry stocking is exceptionally successful, that is where you have huge year classes that take off.

I agree that taking some smaller fish out of a system will probably help the lake and those that remain should grow faster because of less competition for the food source.

Most of the lakes around here are boom and bust type lakes. One lake will be hot for a year until it gets fished down and then a couple years go by and another year class comes up and gets hot again.

I am glad the DNR is stocking around year, otherwise fishing would be really tough for walleyes. I think the only lake that produces walleyes consistently naturally around here is Belle and maybe Collinwood.

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Regarding the "Keep the Small Walleyes" discussion, maybe the DNR is encouraging the keeping of small walleyes is because the larger ones are so full of mercury and other pollutants that they would be deemed unfit to consume if brought to much scrutiny. Just a thought!

Seriously, it makes me sick to see some of the "mighty" anglers showing off their limits of 8-12" walleyes (Resort Fish, as my brother calls them) at the accesses, far too often. They could almost be called baitfish and some of these "sportsmen" take more than one limit/day. Granted, many of the lakes in the area are stocked without much, if any, natural reproduction, but, as you noted, there are a couple or few lakes that have at least some natural reproduction going on. Why don't they want the walleyes to reach sexual maturity- probably at least 14-15" minimum to help the spawning, before they're removed forever? Besides, there's not much meat on "them bones" before they reach that length.

The DNR complains about lack of funds and the expense of stocking as to why fishing seems to have gotten worse, at least in some lakes. Seems to me that they could maximize stocking efforts if they'd let mother nature help, if only a little bit. I know that my comments provide an over simplistic approach, but I do think those DNR comments sounded a bit strange or "fishy', considering the sorry state of many MN lakes right now. Guess we should consider ourselves lucky to get to keep some of the leftovers that the cormorants didn't want, according tho that spokesperson.

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In my opinion it all depends on the year class that dominates that particular lake. If it's full of dinks, then by all means weed them out.....or at least take enough that the classes balance somewhat so you don't have a bunch of small fish eating all the forage which leaves the entire population stunted.

I used to cringe at the sight of a limit of dinky walleyes, but in some instances it's probably more beneficial than harmful in the long run.

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How do other states with sizable walleye populations address this issue? Have they been successful in documenting that slot size protection helps? Just wondering.

Enjoy the cooler weather!!!

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I agree with Limit Out about the size of the year class. If you get too many, the health and quality of the fish suffers because of the depletion of food sources. Lake Waubay in NE SD had a 14 inch minimum for years, but they opened it up this year because the fish were not growing and were showing signs of starvation. I think a 14 inch minimum would work on most lakes around here, but the fish population would have to be monitored for health condition.

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  • 1 month later...

I will keep smaller fish if thats all i am catching,and I have not ate fish in awhile.. better than keeping large fish.I think they are easier to clean and fry up nicely.my opinion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We were out yesterday and apparently fed the walleyes what they wanted. Think we caught 19 total for the 3 of us, but we still can't bring ourselves to keep 12 inch fish(they were the smallest we caught) so we didn't keep anything under 14 inches and wound up keeping six. We left the 12"ers for the ice fishermen. Maybe they'll be a little longer by first ice. Great day to be on the water! Hope we can get in a couple more.

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I catch a lot of 11-13.5 inchers on my local lake. Every once in a while I'll keep a 13.5 incher if I want to make a meal out of some walleyes. Anything smaller than 13.5 inches is way too small in my opinion. In lakes with no natural reproduction, I have no problem taking out 25-27 inchers, because they still taste good.

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I will keep smaller fish if thats all i am catching,and I have not ate fish in awhile.. better than keeping large fish.I think they are easier to clean and fry up nicely.my opinion.

I agree. I will keep a 12 incher long before I keep anything over 20". To me, the perfect eaters are from 14-18".

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  • 1 month later...

How do other states with sizable walleye populations address this issue? Have they been successful in documenting that slot size protection helps? Just wondering.

Enjoy the cooler weather!!!

We went from a 14" min and 1 over 20" rule a few years ago to no min a 17-22" no keep slot and 1 over 22, before you caught lots of just shy of 14 and a few over 20, now you catch many in the slot and few of the 14-17" eaters and also many over the slot, so IMO slots work. Now if some would just let the 12" ones grow a year so those of us that wont keep under 14 would get a few to eat.

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The biggest thing is that nobody sees the rule stating that you can only have 1 20+ inch walleye in your possession. Which helps the state keep a tight lid on spawning walleyes year classes. But people who don't care or don't read the rules, will take several big fish. I have seen number of times of anglers taking stringer of 20+ walleyes home with them. Each time, I let them know the rules and they just curse at me. I Call the dnr, and there is never a officer in the area. Tip line, not much of a help, Some time they will get a plate number.

you want my option on this all, Don't STOCK FISH!!!!!!! CREATE SPAWNING HABITAT and protect that area with no fishing!!!!!!!! that goes with all pressured fisheries. (crappies in the spring, sunny's in late spring, walleyes early spring)

thing is you can't change the world it is what it is, and everyone will be who they are. Just got to live among them.

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My mouth is watering at the thought of a 12" eye. 'Course I skipped lunch today and haven't eaten a walleye in 6 weeks.

grin

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Shadow,

Things are a little different up there in the Brainerd area. If there was no stocking, we would have very few walleyes in the area. The lakes around here do not have much for natural reproduction and to make it that way would involve completely changing lakes from what they are now. Taking more money than hundreds of years of stocking would cost.

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all it really takes for walleyes to spawn in good rocks with a few sand spots; a south to north facing creek arm. If we can make drainage ditch in a year we can make great spawning habitat. (at least its a start)

I know thats not the only thing, But walleyes spawn much like trout, run in creeks river, anywhere the rocky shallows are.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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      How’s the the smallie bite? I’ll be up on Friday 😎 ~Tripp
    • FishinCT
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