A popular walleye fishing area on Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake in Itasca County will be closed to fishing May 11-17 because of high concentrations of walleyes.
The closure, due to late ice cover and early walleye opener, includes the area extending from Williams Narrows upstream through the First River Flowage up to Egg Lake. Signs will be posted at the narrows and other access points within the closed area.
"The closure is necessary to protect adult walleye that have concentrated around the spawning site where the DNR’s egg collection operation is located," said Chris Kavanaugh, DNR Grand Rapids area fisheries manager. "It's always a difficult decision to close the area and restrict recreational opportunities, but our first responsibility is to the long-term health of the fishery. We considered the safeguard offered with the protected slot limit, but felt the risk of overharvest was too high."
This is the first time since 2008 that the area near the DNR’s egg-collection operation has been closed, Kavanaugh said. Before that, the lake was closed in 1996 and 1997. There are likely to be concentrations of spawning fish in other areas, and anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release.
The walleye run at lake has been a major part of the statewide walleye stocking program since the 1920's. Each year, adult walleye are trapped, spawned, the eggs fertilized and then transported to state hatcheries for incubating, hatching. They are then distributed to lakes and ponds according to individual lake management plans. A portion of the fry produced is always returned to Big and Little Cut Foot Sioux lakes.
Although this area is closed to fishing through the first week of the season, there are no restrictions on boat travel through the area. If the net and dock is still in place on May 11, provisions will be made to allow boat travel along the north side of the channel. All campgrounds, resorts and public accesses in the area are open. Shore anglers may want to consider alternative opportunities at the Winnie Dam.