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BobT

I got educated this morning. Fortunately, it wasn't by a CO.

I had always had the understanding that it was legal to cull fish in MN and it is.....to a point. Culling is allowed until one reaches his daily possession limit. I don't recall the last time I actually did cull fish but it is still important to know the law and being the conservationists we all boast to be, it is equally important that we abide by the law even when we can probably very easily get away with certain things.

What I learned this morning was that any fish placed into a livewell, basket, cold storage, or on a stringer is counted toward one's daily possession limit even if it is later released.

Suppose I am out fishing and have three walleyes in my livewell and then catch another one and decide to replace one of my earlier ones with the new one. As the day progresses, I get a few more and throughout the day I release four fish that had at one point been in my livewell but in the end I keep the legal limit of six. Or in another scenario, suppose I am catching walleyes and have six in the livewell and then proceed to swap out some for others that I catch later. In the end, I only keep six to bring home.

If by some chance a CO was watching me do this I could be charged with having over my legal daily possession limit of six walleyes simply because I had released four that were at one point in my livewell.

Here are the references from the Regulations Handbook. Notice the part I highlighted in yellow.

image.png.a385fd1abd0aac0aa4034bcb656ecbf4.png

image.png.cc61d33eae655eeb48cd38b9d5272bf9.png

Obviously, the chances of being caught at this would be slim to none but it is the law nonetheless.

image.png

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gimruis

Once you get to your limit, you cannot keep fishing.  Some people think that they can keep fishing with their bag limit, trying to "upgrade" fish.  If you want to keep fishing, you better stop 1 fish short of your limit.  This is why tournaments have their limit as being 1 fish below the actual daily bag limit.  When the bag limit is 1 walleye (like it was on Mille Lacs for a couple years), if you caught a keeper, you had to make the decision immediately of whether you wanted to keep it and go home or throw it back and keep fishing.

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Hoey

Bob,

Thanks for sharing.  Did you do this educating on your own or did you have help?

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nofishfisherman
42 minutes ago, gimruis said:

Once you get to your limit, you cannot keep fishing.  Some people think that they can keep fishing with their bag limit, trying to "upgrade" fish.  If you want to keep fishing, you better stop 1 fish short of your limit.  This is why tournaments have their limit as being 1 fish below the actual daily bag limit.  When the bag limit is 1 walleye (like it was on Mille Lacs for a couple years), if you caught a keeper, you had to make the decision immediately of whether you wanted to keep it and go home or throw it back and keep fishing.

This has been debated time and time again on this site.  Many people have said it but there is no regulation supporting it being true.  Basic logic doesn't even support it.  The end results are the same either way. 

For example lets say you are fishing walleye with a 6 fish limit.  There are 2 scenarios that can play out.

1. You catch and keep your first 6 fish reaching your limit.  You then continue to fish and catch 10 more but release them all.  Your daily total is 6 kept and 10 released for a total of 16 fish.

2. You catch and keep your first 5 fish staying 1 short of your limit.  You then continue to fish releasing the next 10 fish staying below your limit.  Its now getting close to dark so you catch and keep your last fish of the day to fill your limit.  Your daily total is now 6 kept and 10 released for a total of 16 fish.

Either way you do it your numbers are exactly the same and your impacts on the fish are exactly the same. It simply does not make sense to stop one short in order to keep fishing if your intention is to fill a limit by the end of the day.    

Now back to the culling issue.  The wording on this in the regs book could be A LOT clearer.  What you are saying is probably correct,  if you've culled a fish while short of your daily limit that fish you released would still count toward your daily limit because you reduced it to possession once you placed it in your live well. Not very clear in the wording and also very hard to enforce unless you have a CO watching you for a long period of time.  Odds are its something that is rarely or ever enforced. 

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gimruis
18 hours ago, nofishfisherman said:

Either way you do it your numbers are exactly the same and your impacts on the fish are exactly the same. It simply does not make sense to stop one short in order to keep fishing if your intention is to fill a limit by the end of the day.    

While it may be true that you end up at same spot when its all said and done, you legally CANNOT continue to fish if you already have your limit.  There is no debate about that.  Because if you have your limit and you keep fishing, you can therefore add to your bag which would make it illegal. The simplest way to avoid that problem is to not have your limit.  Not having your limit allows you to keep fishing.  Your first scenario above is illegal.  The second one is legal.  They both get to the same finish line but one is legal and the other is not.  I have assisted coordinating bass tournaments in the past and this is why the bag limit to weigh in fish is 5, not 6.  If they weighed in 6, they wouldn't be allowed to keep fishing because the bag limit is 6.  Granted, they are released after the tournament is over, but that is a moot point because having fish in your livewell counts towards the bag limit. :D

Edited by gimruis

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nofishfisherman

As I understand it the reason tournaments stay one fish under the limit is not so that they can keep fishing, its so that they can continue to CULL fish.  If they stay under the limit they can sort out the smaller fish for the bigger fish when they catch them.  If they were to reach their daily limit it would no longer be legal to cull so they would effectively be done for the day.  In theory they could keep fishing but there would be no point in it since they couldn't keep any additional fish they caught. 

If fishing after reaching a limit is illegal can you please produce the specific regulation that clearly states that?  This debate has been going on for years and thus far no one has ever been able to produce a regulation stating the activity is illegal.  

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BobT

I'm not aware of any law that says one must stop fishing for walleyes once one has a limit in possession. That would make it illegal to even accidentally catch a walleye if one decided to fish for another species.

As I pointed out in my opening post, a fish is not in possession until it is placed into a livewell, cold storage, on a stringer, or otherwise kept. Fish that are immediately released are not counted as part of one's possession limit. 

To be sure, I will write to the DNR and get an official response.

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BobT
4 hours ago, gimruis said:

While it may be true that you end up at same spot when its all said and done, you legally CANNOT continue to fish if you already have your limit.  There is no debate about that.  Because if you have your limit and you keep fishing, you can therefore add to your bag which would make it illegal. The simplest way to avoid that problem is to not have your limit.  Not having your limit allows you to keep fishing.  Your first scenario above is illegal.  The second one is legal.  They both get to the same finish line but one is legal and the other is not.  I have assisted coordinating bass tournaments in the past and this is why the bag limit to weigh in fish is 5, not 6.  If they weighed in 6, they wouldn't be allowed to keep fishing because the bag limit is 6.  Granted, they are released after the tournament is over, but that is a moot point because having fish in your livewell counts towards the bag limit. :D

So you're saying that if I have a limit of walleyes in my freezer at home which I caught last weekend, I cannot catch and release fish for walleye? I find this hard to believe. I have submitted this question to the DNR and will post the response.

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BobT
On 5/15/2018 at 12:40 PM, Hoey said:

Bob,

Thanks for sharing.  Did you do this educating on your own or did you have help?

It came up in a discussion I was having at work. We were talking about swapping fish while fishing and a colleague explained the law, which I disagreed with at the time so I had to look it up for myself. 

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gimruis
18 hours ago, BobT said:

So you're saying that if I have a limit of walleyes in my freezer at home which I caught last weekend, I cannot catch and release fish for walleye? I find this hard to believe. I have submitted this question to the DNR and will post the response.

No.  That's not what I'm saying.  I'm saying that if you have a limit of fish in your LIVE WELL you cannot continue to fish.

The rule on culling fish is on page 33 of the regs under POSSESSION.  I can't copy and paste it the forum won't let me.

Edited by gimruis

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gimruis
22 hours ago, nofishfisherman said:

As I understand it the reason tournaments stay one fish under the limit is not so that they can keep fishing, its so that they can continue to CULL fish.  If they stay under the limit they can sort out the smaller fish for the bigger fish when they catch them.  If they were to reach their daily limit it would no longer be legal to cull so they would effectively be done for the day.  In theory they could keep fishing but there would be no point in it since they couldn't keep any additional fish they caught. 

That is inaccurate.  Not every tournament is allowed to cull fish.  Culling is legal based on the body of water and/or the state you're fishing.  For years it was illegal to cull bass on Mille Lacs which is why there were very few tournaments there.  The DNR has recognized that the ability to allow culling super ceded the law there and the payoff were two Bassmaster Elite AOY Championships the past two years.

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Wanderer

Gimruis is correct.  Permitted tournaments in MN are typically exempt from the no cull rule.  

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nofishfisherman

I stand corrected on tournament culling.  I wasn't aware that the permits allowed them to be exempt from that rule.  I'd still love to read any regulation stating that fishing after a limit is illegal.  I also reached out to the DNR themselves to see if they could produce a regulation but I haven't heard back yet. 

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rundrave

So if I start out my day with no fish in the freezer or my live well of any species.

I catch my daily limit of walleye pulling spinners and lindy rigs in 60 minutes trolling over a particular structure. Do I have to stop fishing? No way! Do I need to no stop fishing for walleye? Yes.  So then I may not continue to troll that point and change my presentation move to another part of the lake. But how does a CO even enforce this?

What if I switch to a another lure/bait with intentions to target another species. I don't disagree that you may need to stop trying to intentionally catch walleyes. But what if I want to catch perch doing the same thing in another spot. Or use a slip bobber to catch panfish? Sure you may accidentally catch another walleye but if you immediately release it, there isn't any issues.

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kfk

I've been checked by a game warden while on the water with a limit of walleyes in my livewell and still catching and releasing walleyes and was not ticketed.  He never said it was illegal to keep fishing for walleyes as long as I released them.

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nofishfisherman

Based on every regulation I've read the only way you'd be illegal after having your limit of walleye is if you caught another walleye and then reduced that walleye to possession.  The fish is not legally in your possession until its been put in a live well or on a stringer.  Simply having it in your hand in the boat does not equal legal possession, that is spelled out in the regulation book.  So as long as any walleye caught after you've reached your limit is immediately released you are not in violation of any regulation that I can find.  It shouldn't matter if that walleye was targeted or an accidental catch while fishing for another species. 

I really wish the DNR would throw out the current regs book and completely rewrite it and reorganize the information so that debates like these didn't happen as often.  The current book is a hot mess of poorly written and vague regulations that do nothing but create confusion and misinformation. 

BTW still waiting on response from the DNR.  

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nofishfisherman

Just got a response from the DNR directly.  Here is the response word for word.

"Once you reach your limit of fish, you can keep on fishing. You just have to practice catch and release with no culling."

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BobT
1 hour ago, nofishfisherman said:

Just got a response from the DNR directly.  Here is the response word for word.

"Once you reach your limit of fish, you can keep on fishing. You just have to practice catch and release with no culling."

They answered you first. Great!  Basically, what I've learned as explained in my opening post is correct. Thanks

Edited by BobT

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BobT

Here's another example where this applies. Suppose I go to Lake X that has a 6 fish limit and I put two walleyes into my livewell. When I decide to leave since I only had those two I decided to just release them. On my way home I decide to stop at Lake Y, which has a 4 fish limit, and give it a try and by some stroke of luck the walleyes have put on the feed bags and I proceed to hammer them. 

From a legal perspective, I can only place two walleyes into my livewell and all others must be released because I already have two fish in possession from Lake X. 

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ANYFISH2

No! First,Those fish are no longer in possession!  

Second, being you are not on the water(on four fish limit lake) with the 2 fish you can still catch and keep 4. 

Obviously, this is difficult at best for CO's to enforce. 

We as sportsmen, need to be ethical and not skirt the rules or bend them.

Just like your culling scenario in the original post.

 A culled fish doesn't count as two. If I put one in the livewell at 14", catch the next one at 17", release the 14. I am only in possession of 1 fish.

The culling law is what allows this, up to your daily limit. Without the culling law, your scenario is absolutely accurate.

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BobT

Here's the reply I got from the DNR. I bold typed a few points.

Her answer to question #1 seems to suggest that fish placed into the livewell and then released are no longer in possession. 

Notice in her opening paragraph the part I put in bold type. What I get from this is that fish I’ve had in my livewell that are no longer in there at the moment are no longer counted toward my possession limit.

In her reply to my question #1, is that they are not counted toward my possession limit however, once I have a limit in possession it is not permitted to cull fish. Does this mean I can cull fish before I have my limit in possession? I'm sending a follow-up question about whether culling is legal before having a limit in possession. 

Thank you for contacting the Minnesota DNR Info Center.

Okay, let’s see…First let’s clarify your limits. Your daily limit is how many fish you can keep from one day’s fishing. Your possession limit is how many fish you can have anywhere – your boat, your cooler, your freezer, the trunk of your car…For most species they are the same, meaning you can only have one day’s catch at any given moment. If you catch six fish on Friday, for instance, you have to eat a few or give them away before you can keep more on Saturday. So, then:

Question #1:
If I am walleye fishing on a lake with a 6 fish limit and over the course of the day I catch some fish, place them into my livewell, and then later choose to release them, are they still counted toward my daily possession limit? This is somewhat related to the culling question. If I understand the rules correctly, a fish is considered part of my daily catch limit as soon as I choose to put it into any kind of storage (i.e., livewell, stringer, cold storage, etc.) even if it is only temporary such as in a livewell. 

1)      No, if you catch, say, three fish, and decide that’s not enough for dinner, you can put them back even if they’ve been in your live well. (It’s not good for the fish to do so, because there is a good chance they’ll die anyway, but it is not illegal.) Once you have your limit of six, though, you can’t trade out one fish for another, trying to keep only the biggest ones –that is culling.

Question #2:
If I am walleye fishing on a lake with a 6 fish limit and I have 6 walleyes in my livewell, is it permitted for me to continue catch and release fishing for walleye. This might happen if I find myself on a good bite and just want to continue enjoying the fishing without keeping any more. 

2)      Yes, you can continue to catch and release. You just have to be sure you let them go right away. You can FISH, you just can’t POSSESS.

 

Question #2.1:
If the answer to question #2 is that it is not permitted to catch and release once I have a limit in possession, what does the law say about accidentally catching another walleye even though I decide to target northern pike or some other species? Also, what if I have a limit of walleyes in my freezer from a previous day, am I then not permitted to practice catch and release fishing for walleyes?

3)      Catching one fish when targeting another is what we call “incidental catch.” We get lots of these questions when one season is open (say, panfish), but another (like bass) is not. Incidental catch is a forgivable offense BUT it is very dependent on a Conservation Officer’s discretion. If he sees that you are using appropriate baits, releasing an incidental catch immediately, and not repeatedly hooking the non-targeted species, you’ll probably be fine. If, however, you are supposedly “fishing for sunfish” but using a big crank bait, or catching bass after bass without switching spots or baits or making some other obvious effort not to, then you could be in trouble, because you can’t target a closed species even if you are letting them go. Catch-and-release is still fishing.

You could, however, catch and release if you have your limit in your freezer, or even in your boat, as long as you don’t take any more fish into your possession -- You have to let them go immediately.

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BobT

I'm beginning to rethink what I thought I learned yesterday. 

Incidentally, I honestly don't recall any time that I have ever culled smaller fish for larger ones. I have placed fish in my livewell and then released them later because I decided not to keep them. 

This whole discussion came about because we were discussing the rules of the game. 

 

1 hour ago, ANYFISH2 said:

No! First,Those fish are no longer in possession!  

Second, being you are not on the water(on four fish limit lake) with the 2 fish you can still catch and keep 4. 

Obviously, this is difficult at best for CO's to enforce. 

We as sportsmen, need to ethical and skirt the rules or bend them.

Just like your culling scenario in the original post.

 A culled fish doesn't count as two. If I put one in the livewell at 14", catch the next one at 17", release the 14. I am only in possession of 1 fish.

The culling law is what allows this, up to your daily limit. Without the culling law, your scenario is absolutely accurate.

It does seem a little gray to a point and I could imagine that two attorneys could present arguments back and forth for hours forcing a judge to make a final ruling. 

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ANYFISH2

It Can be confusing.

Alot of times I think, WE, confuse ourselves by reading to deep into the regs wording.  Most of the time face value is the way to go.

Talking to a couple of CO's tha frequent my area they say the same thing.  Sportsmen, convolute the regs so much, their neighbors are always illegal!😂

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gimruis
19 hours ago, BobT said:

They answered you first. Great!  Basically, what I've learned as explained in my opening post is correct. Thanks

Good work Bob.  I stand corrected then on continuing to fish with a limit in my live well.  My apologies.

My post on the culling is still accurate though.  Unless the specific lake indicates you can cull, it is illegal.  The issue with temporarily keeping a fish is that not everyone has a live well.  Lots of people still use a stringer, basket, bucket, etc and we all know that a fish isn't going to survive for very long in that situation.

The incidental catch item is interesting.  You better not get caught with bass tackle if the only season open is for panfish...

Edited by gimruis

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ANYFISH2
2 hours ago, gimruis said:

 

My post on the culling is still accurate though.  Unless the specific lake indicates you can cull, it is illegal.  

No, unless a specific lake/River indicates you CAN NOT, culling is perfectly LEGAL.

I agree it isnt a good practice without a Very good live well.  Even then, it best only to box a fish you intend to keep.

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