Minnesota’s bass fishing season would open statewide on the walleye opener under a proposal by the Department of Natural Resources.
“I’m all for it,’’ said Vern Wagner, a longtime bass-fishing addict and vice president of Anglers for Habitat, which pushed for the change.
There is a caveat: The first two weeks of the bass season would be catch-and-release only everywhere except the northeast, where the season currently opens two weeks before the rest of the state.
“With climate change, bass populations are expanding in Minnesota,’’ said Linda Erickson-Eastwood, DNR fisheries program manager. “We decided to get rid of the split season between the northeast and the rest of the state.’’
Wagner agrees with the DNR that the additional fishing shouldn’t hurt the bass population. The traditional bass opener was intended to protect spawning bass, but Wagner said bass often are spawning even after the season opens.
It is among several proposed fishing regulation changes the DNR intends to adopt and is accepting comments.
Among other proposals:
• A statewide catch-and-release season for sturgeon would be June 16 to April 14, including border waters where there currently isn’t a season. “It will open up more opportunities to fish for sturgeon,’’ Erickson-Eastwood said.
• Flathead catfish fishing would close during the winter, when the fish are vulnerable to overharvest.
• Archers bowfishing for rough fish would be required to have barbs on their arrows. The Legislature inadvertently deleted that requirement.
• Border waters rules would be made more consistent with adjoining states’ rules. For example, darkhouses now will be legal on waters bordering South and North Dakota.
Questions, comments or requests for a hearing can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to muskie rules
Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a law setting a 54-inch statewide muskie minimum size, starting in 2015. But there will be some exceptions. The minimum size muskies that can be kept on border waters will be 50 inches, except on the Iowa border, where it will be 40 inches, and South Dakota border, where it will be 54 inches. The minimum size will remain 48 inches on some lakes with special regulations, and 40 inches in 21 metro lakes with tiger muskies.
Fishing license sales
Minnesota sold about 461,500 fishing licenses through Friday, up 64,000 from last year, but down about 7 percent from the 10-year average.