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Understanding the new fishing laws

April 16, 2009
Sarah Day — Staff Writer

FAIRMONT - Out of Minnesota's 10 new fishing laws for 2009, only two will likely affect area anglers.

The opener for inland waters is May 9 - Mother's Day weekend. Inland waters are any within Minnesota that don't border another state or Canada. The opener for the Iowa/Minnesota border waters is May 2.

Martin County Conservation Officer Eric Schettler, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said luckily there are only a few new laws this year, while in years past there have typically been many more to learn.

One important change centers around oversize limits. Schettler said daily limits for certain fish, like walleye, were set at six. Now the limit applies to total possession and a person can only have one walleye longer than 20 inches.

"Anything you can claim as yours in your freezer or somebody else's freezer, if you don't have room," he said.

Schettler said the oversize law is basically for walleye and northern pike, but also includes muskellunge, channel catfish and flathead catfish.

He isn't sure why the size limit change came about.

"Maybe too many big fish were being taken," Schettler said.

Another important change is the addition of a conservation license. The license is for Minnesota residents only. Schettler said a benefit for fishermen is that it's cheaper - a regular angling license is $17, while a conservation one is $11.

The "downside" is that an angler can only take half as many fish. So if you have a conservation license instead of being able to take home six fish, you may only keep three.

"Let's say the limit is five, like for catfish," Schettler explained. "You can't take two and a half catfish, so you have to take one less. In other words, you could only take two."

So what happens when the possession limit is normally one? Schettler said it's catch-and-release only. But that only occurs with muskies.

"Why they did that I have no clue," he said. "The political end of it, us wardens don't get involved with it."

A clarification of the shelter laws will affect anglers this winter. Last year, the law changed to require all fish houses left unattended overnight to have a license. This year, all shelters, which are left overnight unattended on a lake, require a license.

"Like, for example, if you have a warming house for ice skating," Schettler said.

Also new this year, though not a law, is the walleye stamp. It costs $5 and is entirely voluntary.

"It is not needed for fishing," he explained. "A lot of sportsmen are stamp collectors."

Schettler reminds boaters to make sure their licensing is up-to-date and that they have all required safety equipment on board.

He said the DNR provides free fishing regulation and boating regulation books, which can be picked up at any Electronic Licensing System agent - like the Department of Motor Vehicles branch offices.



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