If signed into law as passed, by 2010 we should see many changes in the Fishing Contest rules, with guidance and support from Senator Satveer Chaudhary, Representative David Dill and Representative Larry Howes both the House and Senate sent a new Game and Fish bill forward. The contest modifications came about through the actions of anglers, working together with Legislators for changes. Fishing contests are an important part of angling in Minnesota, both economically and recreationally. Lead by an alliance of anglers active in the Northerns Inc, the Minnesota Bass Federation Nation, Muskie anglers and bow fishing groups; they spent hundreds of hours lobbying for change. As a result of this the rules have been relaxed and the fee's reduced. Now it's up to the contest/tournament anglers to conduct themselves ethically and professionally at public accesses and on the water.
So what will be different?
The contest application will be available on-line, thus streamlining the process and creating a Web page listing for all the contests Statewide.
A best practices certification program for fishing contest organizers will be developed by the DNR to ensure the proper handling and release of fish. Angling groups will be invited to help develop these practices.
Who will be required to obtain a permit will change. What's new: Events with fewer then 25 boats or 150 ice fishing contestants will be exempt or if the contest is limited to rough fish; or the total prize value is $500 or less. Much of the old language of who is also exempt stays the same.
I expect the new electronic web permit system will be similar to Wisconsin's and a series of questions will be asked, to determine who needs a permit.
The Charitable exemption has been removed. But all the contest fees have been cut in half. The permit fee for any individual contest may not exceed the following amounts:
$60 for an open water contest not exceeding 50 boats and without off-site weigh-in;
$200 for an open water contest with more than 50 boats and without off-site weigh-in;
$250 for an open water contest not exceeding 50 boats with off-site weigh-in;
$500 for an open water contest with more than 50 boats with off-site weigh-in;
$120 for an ice fishing contest with more than 150 participants.
And finally The commissioner may allow for live release weigh-ins at public accesses.
This new legislation does not change or replace all of the other existing contest/permit regulations. Everything else stays the same. DNR Fisheries has worked very hard to make the permitting process fair and reasonable. These new changes should assist them in continuing this practice.
We want to thank everyone who helped in this effort. Those who made phone calls, sent emails made contacts and spread the word. Now is the time to reconnect with your legislator and thank them for their efforts and support. Many anglers contributed to making these changes. I'd like to personally thank Brian Petschl Land of Lakes Bowfishing Association, Rob Carper Northerns Inc. , Peter Perovich and Paul Perovich Minnesota Bass Federation Nation, Muskie anglers John Underhill, Shawn Kellet and Rob Kimm and John Schneider Mn Sportfishing Congress. Many more made contributions, thanks to all.
The 2009 Game and Fish bill also created night-time bowfishing, free licenses for individuals over age 90. Creates a new 48 inch Muskie length limit on many lakes, a non-resident spearing license, and many more license/shelter fee changes.
Hunting rules and regulations also received changes and additions, one of the most significant is the new uncased firearm/bow law, which allows for unloaded guns to be transported uncased during hunting season. This new rule makes quite a bit of sense to hunters and the credit goes to MOHA for their work on this.
More discussion on this bill can be found here...
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