A number of changes in Minnesota’s fishing regulations are intended to give anglers more opportunities to fish for bass, sturgeon, and other species, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Beginning Saturday, May 9, anglers in most of the state can catch and release bass until the regular harvest season opens Saturday, May 23. Meanwhile, anglers in northeast Minnesota can continue to catch and keep bass during these two weeks. Northeast Minnesota is defined as essentially north and east of U.S. Highway 53.
In past years, anglers could not fish for bass until Memorial Day weekend outside northeastern Minnesota. But in the new two-week catch-and-release season, anglers can fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass. All bass caught during this two-week period must immediately be released.
In another bass season change, the fall closure on harvest of smallmouth bass has been lifted in the northeast.
Anglers will have more opportunities to fish for lake sturgeon starting March 1. However, season dates differ depending on location.
On inland waters and Minnesota waters bordering North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, a new catch-and-release season will allow anglers to fish for lake sturgeon from June 16 until April 14, a season lasting nearly 10 months. Anglers here cannot fish for lake sturgeon from April 15 to June 15, a closure intended to protect the fish during their spawning season.
On Minnesota waters bordering Canada there are harvest, catch-and-release and closed seasons for lake sturgeon. On waters bordering Wisconsin, there is a lake sturgeon harvest season in the St. Croix River south of Taylors Falls including Lake St. Croix, but otherwise all waters have catch-and-release lake sturgeon seasons that differ depending on date and location. Season details can be found in the border waters section of the fishing regulations on the Fish Minnesota website or on page 43 of the 2015 Fishing Regulations booklet, which will be available online on March 1.
Comebacks staged by lake sturgeon in recent years are making new fishing opportunities possible. Sturgeon numbers grew because of improved water quality, dam removals and restorative stocking efforts, according to Stevens. Yet, despite success stories, lake sturgeon populations remain in recovery mode.
Anglers also will find new regulations for shovelnose sturgeon, a species found mostly in the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River below St. Anthony Falls.
The minimum length limit for muskie in Minnesota is 54 inches. The previous limit was 48 inches. Exceptions to the new 54-inch minimum length limit apply for muskie-northern pike hybrids, also called tiger muskie, in the seven-county metro area, where the minimum length limit remains 40 inches on certain lakes.
Fishing regulation changes are summarized on page six of the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, which is available at any license agent or online.
source: 2014 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources