Anglers fishing Upper Red Lake this spring will again be able to keep four walleye of which only one may be longer than 17 inches, continuing the same regulation that was in place this past winter and the previous 2017 open water season.
Harvest under the four-fish bag limit, one-over-17 regulation resulted in about 152,000 pounds for the winter season – a record high for winter harvest since reopening walleye fishing in 2006 – and there remains room within the target harvest range to allow this regulation to continue into the open water season.
“Anglers really like the current opportunities to keep lots of walleye on Upper Red Lake,” said Gary Barnard, area fisheries supervisor in Bemidji for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “These regulations serve a specific purpose now, but we want to be clear that eventually we may need to pull back.”
Red Lake’s walleye harvest is managed under a joint harvest plan, revised in 2015 by the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee. An Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee reviewed previous season harvest totals and regulation options and recommended continuation of the current walleye regulation for the state waters of Upper Red Lake.
The revised harvest plan recommends an aggressive approach when walleye spawning stock is in surplus, as it currently is. The one-over component of this regulation replaced a protected slot limit in December 2015, and has been used ever since in combination with either a three- or four-fish bag limit.
Surplus spawning stock means that there are more adult spawners than needed for good reproduction. Removing some of the excess is good for the population since it will improve growth and survival of young fish.
Adjustments to size or bag limits may be needed in the future if the spawning stock needs more protection. “For now, the regulations meet our objectives by spreading harvest over a wide range of sizes and removing some of the surplus spawning stock,” Barnard said.
More information on Red Lake fishing regulations are available at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.