People can provide input online about lowering bag limits on some lakes

Anglers can weigh in on whether to keep fewer bluegills
from some Minnesota lakes as a way to protect and improve
the sizes of one of the state’s most prized and frequently
caught fish.

“We’re hearing from more and more of our stakeholders,
every-day anglers, resort owners, fishing guides and fishing celebrities that they’d like more opportunities for large bluegill,”
said Dave Weitzel, Grand Rapids area fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

DNR area fisheries staff worked with local anglers and angling groups to identify lakes where bluegill size could be improved by lowering bag limits. Under this proposal, some lakes would have a bag limit of five bluegills and others a limit of 10. Reduced bag limits have
worked on other Minnesota lakes in past years to maintain
big bluegills under increasing fishing pressure. In
some cases, the number of big bluegills in those lakes increased.
The statewide limit is 20 bluegills per angler. Bluegills
are also known as sunfish.

The DNR has posted a list of proposed lakes designated
for changes, as well as how people can provide input at
mndnr.gov/sunfish. People can provide input now into this
fall. The DNR will post informational signs at water accesses
on lakes included in the proposal.

This proposal is the result of years of discussion and the
review of angler and lake survey data. The DNR heard from
anglers that they’re satisfied with the number of bluegills
they catch, but that the size of the fish has been decreasing.

The DNR mailed questions to a random selection
of anglers and asked about the level of support
for reducing bag limits for the whole state.
While anglers did not overwhelmingly
support a statewide change, there was
strong support for reducing limits on
selected lakes.

Based on input collected through
the summer, the DNR will make any
necessary changes to the proposal,
and new regulations could go into
effect March 1, 2021.

Bluegill biology and fishing
On any lake, anglers can voluntarily
help protect big bluegills by
releasing or limiting their harvest
of those eight inches or bigger.

Spawning bluegills are particularly
prone to over harvest because they are
very aggressive while defending a nest.
Anglers can help by releasing spawning
bluegills, especially large, nesting males. Released
fish have a high survival rate and will typically return
to their nests to complete the spawning cycle.

Fish are a healthy source of protein but any fish
– even those bought in a store – can contain contaminants
that can harm human health, especially
in children and fetuses. You can learn more by
checking out fish consumption guidelines in the
fishing regulations booklet.

More information about sunfish biology and
management can be found at mndnr.gov/sunfish.