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Quality Bluegill Initiative


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Tom Sawyer

As I stated on FB yesterday, "About time", long overdue. 

I'm all for it, but the problem I see on these lakes with reduced bags have some serious culling mortality during winter. Granted these lakes won't normally be on the radar of most meat hunters, but sadly those that do keep fish, constantly upgrade. Also, naming trophy lakes can also put a target on their back, and actually increase pressure. Some lakes that have trophies aren't on the list because of this exact reason. 

Not a fan of plucking fish from beds in spring. That should be considered harassment. Some areas should be closed during spawn on such lakes. 

 

Edited by Tom Sawyer
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eyeguy 54

I like the idea. Maybe 5 daily with 10 possession limit or 10 daily with same possession. Wife and I both love gills and it seams like 6, 8 or so inchers is about just right. Nice to have a meal once week or so.  Would be difficult to have a family fish fry tho and I would not like that. We do that maybe three times a year. Grandkids love a few pieces. 

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eyeguy 54

If just certain lakes with the limits it would not be a problem to get enough on other lakes for the family fish fry. 

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Tom Sawyer

For those of you that are for new regs to help protect this fragile resource, please attend meetings and voice your opinion. Sadly opposed viewpoints out way those in favor. 

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  • Official Fishing Report Team - MN
IceHawk

I'm all for limit changes on certain lakes but definitely not all lakes. Personally some stunted lakes could use more of the smaller gills taken out. AND in some with bad genetics it doesn't always work.  Pleasant Lake by St Cloud MN has a 5 fish gill limit. I lived on this lake for a few years  fished it fairly hard and sadly even with the rule never really saw trophy gills so does it work in all lakes?  Love the  5-10 fish rule on Gills on  Known Trophy caliber lakes for sure and adding more lakes  In time after seeing the results. Saw some on the list that IMO needed something done because of fishing pressure Osakis, Irene, Grove and hopefully the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes if I could get my way. I have fished all of these above waters hard for 30 years plus. I have seen the decline in trophy gills on these waters. I personaly am more up for a protected slot on panfish. Say all but 1 gill over 9 mandatory release. For crappies same all 12 over go back except one over. My biggest pet peeve and something that definitely needs to be addressed is fishing spawning beds during spawn This is probably one of the biggest reasons we are seeing a decline in trophy fish. Male gills are very very  vunarable during this time. There aggressiveness makes them very easy to over harvest. I guess my Last thing even if or whenever these rules get voted in or out,  Is as Anglers stewards of the sport we educate teach people how important it is to follow some of these guidelines without a law to help the future of our fisheries. 

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Having fished more lakes with 5 fish limits on bluegills I can see the difference. Besides tiny lakes in the middle of nowhere all the 10 inch gills I've caught in past winters have been from lakes with restrictions and I can say the same for the 13+ crappies too. 

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New regs are long over due.  Could use it on other species like walleyes and crappies too.  Might not help much at this point though.  Its very difficult to regulate this with a shortage of people to do it (not enough COs).  Its gonna take more of a cultural shift.  People are gonna have to start targeting them for the sport/enjoyment of it rather than just to harvest them.  Like bass or muskie fishing with voluntary release.  And I don't see that happening anytime soon.  Heck, just look at all the sunfish and crappies being harvested just on this website.  Just my 2 cents

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I would like to see a measurement also put in place to lower harvest of big bull gills.

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monstermoose78

I hope they put some limits on lakes by me. It’s hard to watch the guys go pull the males off the nests every spring. I try to educate as many fishermen to release those gills over 8 inches and explain why it’s important to do so. 

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On 2/14/2020 at 8:03 AM, gimruis said:

 Heck, just look at all the sunfish and crappies being harvested just on this website.  Just my 2 cents

 

I'd like to see it applied to Gills + Crappies.  I'd also like to see it instituted state wide where appropriate.  Long overdue.

 

3 hours ago, Rick said:

I would like to see a measurement also put in place to lower harvest of big bull gills.

 

I have no problem with a protected trophy slot or like.  

Edited by CJH
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  • Official Fishing Report Team - MN
IceHawk

Really surprised there isn't more feedback from viewers on this one? It's a great topic lets see some more thoughts and opinions on this. If you are against it don't be afraid to put your opinion up. I promise you I personally wont cut you down or judge you because how you feel. I as others are am  really interested in finding different ideas and some solutions to help the declineing trophy panfish in MN .  Be nice to get a bunch of opinions on this.   I will be attending listening  and voiceing  my thoughts and others in any upcomeing meeting on this subject. 

Edited by IceHawk
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I know a group of us have talked a lot about this recently.   I really like the 10 or 5 depending in the lake.  The 1 over 10" if someone wants a trophy gill.

 

For crappie regs just look a bit south.

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HoleHoppingGills

My thought and by the way I'm a huge gill and crappies guy. Id like to see all MN lakes with a regulation that 9 or 9. 5 inch go back ASAP on crappie!!. Been seeing a lot of.lakes destroyed by fishermen taking limits of small fish. Use to fish a small.lake near Tonka few times a year and always did well on quality panfish... I went there few years later like I always did in the spring off a dock to catch spawning crappies. Lake has no access,  anyways some guys were fishing and had there kids to obviously use them for fish limits, Watched this guy pull in a 5 inch crappie, turns around lifts up a metal basket out of the water. This basket maxed out and completely full.of 5 to 7 inch crappies.  About 6 in the party kept EVERYTHING. Tried it few times that winter which I normally did back then.... no fish population at all.  Just my thoughts sorry so long lol

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Wanderer
16 hours ago, IceHawk said:

Really surprised there isn't more feedback from viewers on this one? It's a great topic lets see some more thoughts and opinions on this. If you are against it don't be afraid to put your opinion up. I promise you I personally wont cut you down or judge you because how you feel. I as others are am  really interested in finding different ideas and some solutions to help the declineing trophy panfish in MN .  Be nice to get a bunch of opinions on this.   I will be attending listening  and voiceing  my thoughts and others in any upcomeing meeting on this subject. 


You might not find much opposition on forums cuz the people that use them are learners.  This is our life and we’ve paid attention to what goes on out on the water/ice.  We’ve had our times when we’ve realized what our own actions have meant and make efforts to be better sportsmen and conservationists.  If all of us here kept every legal fish we catch up to our limit, we’d be WAY over on possession - who can eat that much fish?  We don’t view a freezer full of fillets as food security, we view a lake full of swimming fillets as food security and fun security.  Making a smaller withdrawal from the lake here and there is better than living on a couple jackpots per year when one really lands on em.
 

That statement might sound arrogant but I believe it to be true.  

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whateverisbiting

I would love to see more restrictions on all species but they have to include a protected slot.  There are so many success stories it should be obvious by now.  It seems to work better when a mid-range length is protected or all fish over a certain length go back.  I have heard concerns that restriction will reduce interest including from out of state (economic impact), but with better fishing I doubt that is the case.  I think what helps with this is allowing 1 trophy over a certain size in your limit.  As for the stunted theory...as a kid I fished a lake where I could limit out on 8" crappies any time but never caught one over 9".  We were told to keep as many as possible so we could thin them out.  A 9" minimum was put on the lake.  And like magic when I went back and fished as an adult almost all the crappies were just under 9", but I caught a limit between 9-12 inches.  I remain somewhat skeptical of the stunted fish theory...not that it does not exist, but it is an overused excuse.  Just reducing the limit does not help...you need to add the slot with it.  Or just use the slot, which is somewhat self-limiting in what you can keep.  For some, reducing the number you can keep is a psychological boost...with less effort they can say we limited out!  For others, reducing the limit is not limiting, because they just keep adding fish to the freezer with no fear of getting caught over limit, whereas for a slot there is high risk of keeping illegal fish while on the water.  With the new northern regulations, I have already seen the impact in increasing size...all fish from 22-26 go back and now I am seeing those small northerns get some bulk (it is not because they are stunted and people are keeping all the northerns under 22" to thin them).  I don't think that "educating" people is effective; if you care, you already know.  It needs to be legislated.

Edited by whateverisbiting
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monstermoose78

I release all gills over 8 inches and I release most fish i catch. The photo was of one of a few nice ones released today. I was able to chat with some young guys who were impressed with the number of fish I was catching. They all asked why I was not keeping all of the gills and I said I only keep them when I am going to eat them as they are best fresh. I also explained the importance’s of release big bluegills and to eat those 7-8 inchers. Both you guys said that make sense and both said they would release the big gills from now on.

87EA576A-097E-41B7-9D5B-0DB732D07290.jpeg

Edited by monstermoose78
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  • 9 months later...

 

That's cool, and I understand with what you're trying to do.

 

My opinion is that if you keep an 7 inch bluegill, it cannot grow to 10 inches or 12 inches, etc.

 

Same if you shoot a spike or fork buck.  It may not grow into a quality but it will never get there if you shoot it.

 

I'm in it to catch big fish and hunt quality bucks.  Not to catch dinks and shoot spikes.  Some people are meat hunters and some are trophy hunters.  I fall in the category of the latter, some people do not.  I understand it, I just disagree with it.

Edited by gimruis
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monstermoose78
1 hour ago, gimruis said:

 

That's cool, and I understand with what you're trying to do.

 

My opinion is that if you keep an 7 inch bluegill, it cannot grow to 10 inches or 12 inches, etc.

 

Same if you shoot a spike or fork buck.  It may not grow into a quality but it will never get there if you shoot it.

 

I'm in it to catch big fish and hunt quality bucks.  Not to catch dinks and shoot spikes.  Some people are meat hunters and some are trophy hunters.  I fall in the category of the latter, some people do not.  I understand it, I just disagree with it.

It takes big bluegills to have big bluegills. Lakes can handle the smaller ones taken out most of the time. I don’t keep fish often but when I do I practice selective harvesting of the more abundant smaller fish. Also you can learn to tell male bluegills from female bluegills, so keeping the 7-8 inch females does not hurt the population like taking the largest males out of the lake. I love catching large bluegills, but I don’t keep them. The bluegill below is a large female what was released and in my eyes a 10 inch bluegill is a trophy. I hope it grows and catch it when she is 11 inches. 

FA9E06E6-4603-4B97-B164-C8A2AB011D82.jpeg

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monstermoose78

This is a male bluegill. Notice the orange and more blue part of the lower jaw. Females are yellow on the chest. 

E2B2EDAB-2270-4398-8163-5C240015CAB0.jpeg

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DonkeyHodey
23 hours ago, gimruis said:

My opinion is that if you keep an 7 inch bluegill, it cannot grow to 10 inches or 12 inches, etc.

Same if you shoot a spike or fork buck.  It may not grow into a quality but it will never get there if you shoot it.

 

I'm in it to catch big fish and hunt quality bucks.  Not to catch dinks and shoot spikes.  Some people are meat hunters and some are trophy hunters.  I fall in the category of the latter, some people do not.  I understand it, I just disagree with it.

the counterpoint is that not all 7 inch bluegills will ever grow to be a 10-12 incher.  Many spikes will end up roadkill.

Selective harvest (culling the herd) whether bluegills or whitetails can give you a better chance of getting the trophy.  (There's lots of skinny walleyes starving to death in Milles Lacs (but I better walk away from that can o' worms...))

This concept of selective harvest is quite well accepted by the DNR in terms of Northern Pike.  in the past few decades, lakes with prohibitive harvest length simply ended up with infestation of hammer handles...  Most skinny 16 inchers aren't going to ever be a 30 incher and will die of "old age" at 24 inches or choke on a stocked walleye.

 

One could make a good argument that along with protecting big male bluegills, another aspect of bluegill protection is filleting more 16-22 inch norts from your favorite bluegill lake.  

(while norts do eat sunnies, they prefer long-skinny fish--perch/walleye/bass:  as norts eat the perch, the sunnies overpopulate.  norts also eat small bass (who bass grow up to more consistent consumers of small sunnies than the norts do))

For me this is a win-win situation (since I personally love eating norties)

 

I do like to eat lots of fish--I also like to throw lots back.  Growing up, I never dreamed that a sunfish could be "too big to keep" but I know now and my kids know it too.  (my pop still gives me a funny look when I tell him about throwing back sunfish that are too big to keep...)

 

I could make a similar argument about "culling the herd" with Sconnies and Iowegians, but that might get me in trouble with the department of homeland security...

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3 hours ago, DonkeyHodey said:

One could make a good argument that along with protecting big male bluegills, another aspect of bluegill protection is filleting more 16-22 inch norts from your favorite bluegill lake. 

 

Yes, lets get rid of a lot more of those tiny aggressive pike that are overpopulated here!  The problem is that no one wants to keep those annoying slimy bastards.  If people would stop harvesting pike over 25 inches and keep the smaller ones this problem could go away.

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29 minutes ago, gimruis said:

 

Yes, lets get rid of a lot more of those tiny aggressive pike that are overpopulated here!  The problem is that no one wants to keep those annoying slimy bastards.  If people would stop harvesting pike over 25 inches and keep the smaller ones this problem could go away.

Well get to it. 😊 I do my fair share. Not at all afraid of a little slimy snot rocket.👍

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popriveter

My dad also thinks I’m crazy when I say a sunfish is too big to keep, but their biology is different than most fish-and certainly different than deer (as referenced above). 
When you have two biologically different types of male with vastly disparate size potential, that factor has to drive our decisions about what we keep.

I grew up near a lake with a stunted sunfish population. The sunnies were all tiny and no one ever kept any. It had no launch and almost no fishing pressure. I couldn’t figure out why the sunnies stayed so small year after year.
One year, it had a major winterkill and was restocked. The new population of sunfish grew large. It wasn’t the forage or water quality. The genetics had been altered by overfishing and the population was stunted and that winterkill was the chance it needed for the genepool to reset. That was about the time I learned about bulls/sneakers and learned to keep the smaller fish. I was careful about harvest and quiet about this little sleeper lake. I was usually the only person fishing it.

There was excellent size structure for a few years until word got out and it got fished hard one year. It went right back to dinksville and never rebounded. 

Populations of large sunfish are really fragile and easily exploited and a genetically stunted doesn’t grow no matter how long they live. 
We need anglers to be educated and self-controlled or they all end up stunted. 
Bass and Muskie guys have figured it out for their fisheries. Panfish fisheries have room for improvement.

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whateverisbiting

Popriveter that is a very interesting case study and demonstrates when genetics are the issue.  I have also seen the opposite where it was simply pressure and regulations fixed it.  Seeing all the different responses on there really confirms that everyone is a bit right because the answer is "it depends on the lake".  So statewide regulations help in some cases and not in other cases.  Personally, I prefer to err on the side of regulations which prohibit taking a mid range population while allowing a more limited number above the range than below the range.  That has seemed to help most lakes and most species.

 

Can some enlighten me what a "sneaker" is?

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popriveter
2 hours ago, whateverisbiting said:

Can some enlighten me what a "sneaker" is?

There are two types of male sunfish. The Bull is a male that grows large, wears deep colors to attract a female and guards a bed. The sneaker stays small his entire life and looks like female. He sneaks onto the spawning bed of the bull by imitating a female, and he only gets to pass on his genes if there is no bull around.

When anglers remove bulls from the population, the sneakers are the only males reproducing and the whole population now has little genes. In a nutshell, that’s how population stunting happens.

For more in-depth info, use your search engine to find this article online “Big Battles, Big Gonads: The Crazy World of the Bluegill Spawn”

It’s a good read

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      ice is still looking good, have roughly 24inces give or take a little. Cats have been kinda tough to find in any real numbers. I have done a bit of scouting this week.  I think I might have an area pinned down that has activity... Will do a bit more scouting this weekend and into next week.   Will Have  The location posted by Mid week for sure.  Will also keep monitoring ice conditions.
    • Rick G
      Well, might as well add some details to Royce's pics...lol With the longer days and warming weather pattern this week.  We have started to see more quality fish moving shallow to take advantage of the food and cover skinny water provides. Panfish start to move out from the basins during late winter to feed on the insects that become more active as the days get longer and warmer. There is also more oxygen available due to the weeds starting to grow again.     We have been finding more quality fish showing up in the 8-12 ft areas close to the greenest thickest weed available.  Insect type baits  like the p3 spug, the chigger fry and mayfly rigged on 3-4mm tungsten jigs have been working best.
    • Better Than Working!
      Never been there in may but early to mid June has provided lots of great memories!
    • JerkinLips
      Have fished 15 hours the last yesterday and today without catching a walleye. Y store only had crappie minnows and Fuel and Food had no minnows Thursday morning when I came up so I had to fish with the crappie minnows. My fish house neighbor caught 3 walleyess yesterday morning on pike suckers so I went back into town to get some after bait was delivered. Didn't help. I have only caught four 15" tulibee and a 12" perch. Switching to lake trout the rest of the weekend. 34" of ice. Gas sugar barely made it through. McKinley Park landing has a lot of water on the plowed road as you enter the lake. The Ice Castles may have a hard time getting off the lake this weekend. Good luck if you venture out and be careful.
    • gimruis
      I haven't got mine either.  But I don't intend to fish again until there's open water.  Carry on Bob
    • smurfy
      awe man............🤧😪 nice.................👍
    • eyeguy 54
    • Mtnman
      Looking like NW Ontario will be closed again this year to US visitors, so it's back to Rainy for us in May. Made a lot of new friends there in Rainer and love the area. We are hoping for better weather than we had in September (less wind), but are excited to see what the spring will bring.  Hope Muskies and others can get us on track for the beginning of our fourth decade fishing up Nort !! In the mean time, enjoy the hard water.
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