State-licensed ice anglers pulled in 152,000 pounds of walleyes from Upper Red Lake this season, but there’s still room in the 2018 target harvest range to extend the lake’s four-fish bag limit into summer, the Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.
The winter walleye catch was a record since walleye fishing reopened on Upper Red in 2006. The lake, co-managed by the DNR and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, had been shut down to recover from over-fishing.
“Anglers really like the current opportunities to keep lots of walleye on Upper Red Lake,” said Gary Barnard, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Bemidji. “These regulations serve a specific purpose now, but we want to be clear that eventually we may need to pull back.”
The DNR said Upper Red’s walleye spawning stock is in surplus, allowing for an aggressive approach to harvest. Under the four-walleye limit, only one fish can be longer than 17 inches.
“Surplus spawning stock means that there are more adult spawners than needed for good reproduction,’’ the DNR said. “Removing some of the excess is good for the population since it will improve growth and survival of young fish.’’