Thursday, May 1, 2014

Abundant walleyes await anglers on opener on Leech Lake

The 2014 fishing opener on Leech Lake is expected to be excellent, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Known as one of the state’s top 10 “fish factories,” Leech Lake will boast another year of high walleye abundance and healthy populations of northern pike, largemouth bass and other species frequently pursued by Leech Lake anglers.

This year, those targeting Leech Lake as their opener destination will also be pleased to find increased opportunity for walleye harvest. Beginning Saturday, May 10, a relaxed protected slot limit for walleye will be in effect allowing anglers to keep walleye up to 20-inches long. All walleye 20- to 26-inches long must be immediately returned to the water. The limit of four walleye with one longer than 26 inches allowed in possession has remained unchanged.

“The new regulation is intended to provide additional harvest opportunity while continuing to protect most of the mature female walleye in the population,” said Doug Schultz, Walker area fisheries supervisor. “The Leech Lake Management Plan provides for relaxing the existing protected slot limit if spawning walleye numbers were met.”

Quality fishing opportunities for species other than walleye will be plentiful. The northern pike population continues to be good. Anglers can look forward to catching northern pike 24 inches or larger. The size of yellow perch continues to be good, although anglers can expect to work a bit harder to reach a limit of yellow perch this season.

Good numbers of nice-sized largemouth bass and bluegills exist in Boy, Headquarters, Steamboat and Shingobee bays. Opportunities for large crappies and excellent muskie fishing should continue in 2014. Statewide regulations other than walleye apply for all species on Leech Lake.

To monitor changes in fishing pressure and harvest resulting from the new regulation, anglers will be asked about fishing success from May to September 2014 and December 2014 to March 2015. Anglers can expect to encounter creel clerks at public accesses and resorts.

“Angler cooperation with the brief survey is appreciated,” Schultz said. “It provides valuable information for managing the fishery.”

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