Funny how notions sometimes morph into ideas quietly spoken, and from there catch a little steam to become movements. Action of some sort often follows, right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary.

The election of Jesse Ventura as Minnesota governor is one example. Voter action followed a notion that became an idea, then a movement, before sweeping Gov. Goofy into office. A year or two later, Minnesotans couldn't figure out why they had done what they had done. "How'd we get here?" they asked, aghast as the state's chief executive moonlighted in a striped shirt, refereeing loudmouth wrestlers.

A similarly ill-considered notion at the Capitol has gained traction in recent weeks. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee has voted ahead the idea of reducing the state's walleye limit from six to four, an action that moves the bill closer to a floor vote, and perhaps law, but will benefit the state's fisheries in no meaningful way.

Sen. Satveer Chaudary, DFL-Fridley, is the primary sponsor of the Senate bill and is also chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. An earnest guy, and well-spoken, Chaudary has been worthwhile to other natural resource causes, endearing himself to hunters, anglers and other conservationists.

But the walleye-limit-reduction idea is wrong-headed, as is the Department of Natural Resources' support for it.

The DNR's point, is that statewide parity is a good thing, that enforcement might be easier, and anyway four is less than six, and who needs six if four is good enough?

Isn't this age, after all, of smaller everything -- families, cars, paychecks . . .

And, walleye limits?

Cutting the walleye limit from six to four might be a warm and fuzzy idea. But it falsely implies that somehow the resource might benefit meaningfully.

The DNR acknowledges it won't. On paper, the agency says, the reduction might cut the state's overall walleye harvest fractionally (7 percent). And it's possible during a specific hot bite on a specific lake such a reduction might help spread the harvest among more anglers.

Most of the state's major walleye waters -- Mille Lacs, Red, Lake of the Woods, Rainy, Vermilion -- already are governed by four-walleye (or tighter) limits, as well as slot sizes that tell anglers which fish they can keep and which they can't.

Winnibigoshish and Cass are two exceptions. They are the state's last two large destination walleye lakes (outside the boundary waters) where an angler who occasionally finds a hot bite hot or otherwise "gets into 'em" can still take home six walleyes.

DNR fisheries chief Ron Payer concedes the six-walleye limits on Winnie and Cass cause some jealousy among resort owners and outfitters on lakes where tighter walleye restrictions are in effect.

But are their businesses hurting as a result? Doubtful. Most anglers who travel to Winnie or Cass go there because they want to go to Winnie or Cass. Perhaps these lakes are near their homes or cabins, for example.

Some people who catch-and-keep go home when they have their four or six walleyes. Catch-and-release anglers, on the other hand, might stay on the lake the entire day, hooking and freeing a dozen or more fish, some of which die after being released.

Bottom line: If you want to significantly reduce the walleye harvest in this state, you'll have to cut the limit from six to two. Not four. Two. And no one -- not Chaudary, not the DNR, not even the Humane Society of the United States Where Nothing Ever Should Be Eaten -- is suggesting so dramatic a cut.

Chaudary and the DNR do have a good idea when they recommend reducing the possession limit of walleyes over 20 inches to one (two might be better) from six. No on needs to keep that many big fish, no matter how much they're contributing to the tourism economy.

But absent a compelling biological reason to change the statewide walleye limit to four from six, the rule should be left to stand.

Temptations to manage natural resources by criteria other than those that are fundamentally science-based should be rejected for what they are:

Warm and fuzzy notions that, left unchecked, too often morph into ideas that can become movements, with action following, right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary.

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com