Tracker Pixel for Entry

​The Conscientious Fisherman

by Diane Miller | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Outdoors | June 26th, 2014

Cover by Raul Gomez

Interested in catching fish this summer? Staying out of trouble with the DNR? Preventing the spread of zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil? Catching and releasing a monster fish? Catching and keeping a monster fish? Helping a caught fish survive? Securing the future wealth of lakes country? Earning the respect of veteran fisherman? Learning about fishing ethics?

Hundreds of thousands of people fish in Minnesota and North Dakota every year, so we want to make it as easy as possible for folks to understand some of the most standard, vital rules and regulations that state DNRs have strategically put in place.

Just how strategic are these rules are regulations?

Detroit Lakes professional fishing guide Jerry Sondag knows quite precisely how strategic and important these regulations are, especially as a specialist of muskies, which are some of largest, most rare fish in the region.

Sondag, who’s strictly a catch-and-release fishing guide and has caught and helped others catch hundreds of muskies over the years, said fishing keeps getting tougher every year. There are a number of reasons.

“Out of natural reproduction (of muskies) under 1 percent of those eggs actually hatch, under 1 percent of those reach juvenile stage and under one percent of those grow to full maturity,” Sondag said to HPR. “So you’re talking a fraction of a percent actually grow to full maturity in natural reproduction.”

Because of the difficulty of naturally spawning certain types of fish, mainly muskie and walleye, states use hatcheries to stock and grow fish to later be released in lakes and rivers for catching.

According to the Minnesota DNR, “Hundreds of Minnesota walleye lakes would today offer little or no walleye fishing were it not for regular stocking.”

Fishery supervisors are employed all throughout North Dakota and Minnesota to manage fish populations.

“We basically protect fish populations from overharvest and manage them to the best of our ability to keep a well-balanced fish community in our lakes,” said Jim Wolters, a Fergus Falls-based area fisheries supervisor.

In Minnesota, about 900 lakes are stocked with walleyes and less 100 lakes are stocked with muskies.

Sondag said it’s a tough process to get muskies stocked or restocked into a lake.

“A lake has to meet a certain criteria before they’ll put them in,” he said. “When they find a lake that meets a certain criteria, they have to go through a very tedious approval through lake associations, through the DNR, through the local government in order to get stocked.”

Local and regional fishing organizations like Muskies Inc. and Walleyes Inc. exist, in part, to help fund fisheries.

“Our organizations will put in thousands of dollars to feed these little fish to get them to this (about 30”) big. Maybe one percent make it to this (about 48”) big,” Sondag said.

In Minnesota and North Dakota, anglers are only allowed to keep one 48-inch-or-longer muskie, nothing smaller. In Minnesota, anglers are allowed only one 20-inch-or-longer walleye, or six less-than-20-inch walleye.

Fisherman who dislike throwing back more than one large fish, passing up extra meat for the dinner table, may find it interesting that larger fish are less safe to eat and more likely to contain mercury and other contaminants than smaller fish.

According to the DNR and Minnesota Department of Health, children and women of childbearing age are not recommended to eat walleye longer than 20 inches, pike longer than 30 inches and muskies of any size. All other adults are recommended to eat these same species only once per week. Smaller pan fish, like sunfish and crappie, have no restrictions for older adults and men.

Wolters said fish like crappie, sunfish, pike and bass are able to reproduce naturally without the need for stocking.

“But in order to keep them going, we need to protect the habitat that they need to spawn successfully,” he said.

One of the biggest threats to fish habitats is the spread of aquatic invasive species, like zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil. These nonnative species are harmful to fish populations, water quality and water recreation.

“Once an aquatic invasive species gets into a lake, it’s almost impossible to eradicate,” Wolters said.

Here’s how to prevent the spread:

From the Minnesota DNR Fishing Regulations guide (also applies for ND):

Clean all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species** from watercraft, trailers, and water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreland. It is illegal to transport them whether dead or alive.

Drain water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait container, motor) and drain bilge, livewell, and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving any water access or shoreland property. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.

Dispose of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches and worms, in the trash. It is illegal to release bait into a waterbody or release aquatic animals from one waterbody to another. If you want to keep your live bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water.

Before fishing, you should know

(These apply in Minnesota and North Dakota)

:: It’s illegal to cull fish that have already been caught and kept. For example, if you’ve reached your possession limit and catch a bigger fish after the fact, it’s illegal to throw back a fish on your stinger or in your bucket.

:: For catching-and-releasing, handle the fish gently and quickly to increase its chance for survival.

:: Only angle for fish in deep water if you intend to keep what you catch.

:: Hold a fish by its belly and lower lip, not by its gills or eye sockets.

:: Avoid littering. Plastic bags, fishing line, styrofoam, six-pack holders and other garbage can kill fish and other wildlife.

:: If entering from a public access point, read posted signs for up-to-date, lake-specific rules and information.

:: When in doubt, refer to the DNR Fishing Regulations guide, available online and at all places where fishing licenses are bought.

Wolters: “In order for regulations to work and to accomplish what they are intended to do, we do need compliance from anglers. Abide by those regulations or those regulations won’t work.”

Why fish? ‘It’s so boring.’

For Sondag, the hours of boredom are overshadowed by the few minutes (sometimes seconds) of “sheer madness.”

“When one hits,” he says, “It’s like your adrenaline goes through the roof … the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”

Learn about Jerry and his fishing guide at jerrysondag.com.

LINKS:

Minnesota: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishmn/

North Dakota: http://gf.nd.gov/

RECENTLY IN

Outdoors

Tracker Pixel for Entry HighPlainsHousing2of3 Tracker Pixel for Entry DowntownFargoOct2020 Tracker Pixel for Entry MnStateOnline Tracker Pixel for Entry District44 Tracker Pixel for Entry CassElections Tracker Pixel for Entry MSUM Oline

Recently in:

By the time this article is published, all the major new outlets in the area will have reported on the May 30th protest in Fargo demanding change and justice after the needless killing of George Floyd, as well as its aftermath. …

by John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comThe lives of countless people and the fortunes of numerous industries have been turned upside-down over the course of 2020 due to the full-blown global pandemic that is COVID-19. One of…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

By John Strand jas@hpr1.comThe Little Newspaper That Could is back after a six month hiatus due to the historic…

by Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comWhat Century Are The Catholic Supreme Court Judges Living In?If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed there will be six Catholics, two Jews, and one former Catholic on the Supreme Court making monumental…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.comFargo, ND – Cass County is now at a moderate risk level for the coronavirus according to the North Dakota Department of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further…

By Michael Str!kemichaelstrike.solo@gmail.comTwo-hundred days.In two-hundred days I've played one show.At the beginning of this year if someone had told me I was going to play just one show over the span of almost seven months I…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comVeteran cinematographer and documentarian Kirsten Johnson follows one directorial masterwork -- 2016’s “Cameraperson” -- with another. Stylistically distinct from “Cameraperson,”…

By Paul NootArtwork by Paul Nootbismarckartist@yahoo.comIt was in the middle of March when Bismarck teachers were notified that school would not be going back and within a week schools would need a plan to do distance learning. I…

By Scott Eckernotharrisonford@gmail.comLike many artists the quarantine seemed like a great opportunity to finally get around to some writing. I mean what else was I going to do? Looking on the bright side of oblivion, I could at…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Sabrina Hornung  sabrina@hpr1.com It’s been a weird year…talk about the understatement of the decade. This week’s issue…