New regulations for catching and keeping northern pike will be the most significant change anglers will see when they open up the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Booklet being distributed throughout the state.
“Anyone who wants to keep pike in Minnesota’s inland waters needs to take a close look at these regulations and be prepared to measure the pike they want to keep starting on the Saturday, May 12, fishing opener,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The new fishing regulations have three distinct zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota. While not designed to manage for trophy pike, the new regulations are meant to restore pike populations for better harvest opportunities across the state for sizes that make good table fare, up to around 28 inches or so.
“It’s almost go-time and we’re happy to be at this point after years of discussion on these issues with pike,” Stevens said. “This has been a long-running topic of conversation and is becoming reality in the 2018 fishing season.”
The move toward new regulations was a response to anglers’ concerns about the over-abundance of hammer-handle pike in much of central to north-central Minnesota; the low numbers of pike present in southern waters; and a desire to protect large pike in the northeastern part of the state.
The new pike harvest regulations apply to inland waters of the state.
North-central: Limit of 10 northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all from 22 to 26 inches must be released.
Northeast: Two pike; anglers must release all from 30 to 40 inches, with only one over 40 inches allowed in possession.
South: Two fish; minimum size 24 inches.
Darkhouse spearing regulations for pike change slightly and those regulations are listed in the spearing section of the regulations booklet.
Meanwhile, the new pike regulations do not affect border waters fishing regulations and special regulations that cover individual lakes, rivers and streams.
For more information on the new zone regulations visit mndnr.gov/pike or contact a local area fisheries office. Contact information can be found in the fishing regulations booklet, available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.