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Minnesota News
Minnesota News

News Archive


Burbot state record is official

State Record Eelpout

It’s official – a Minnesota resident holds the state record for a fish species with a much maligned appearance and many names including freshwater ling, lawyer, eelpout and burbot.

Brent Getzler of Roosevelt is the new record holder of a 19-pound, 10-ounce burbot taken from the Minnesota waters of Lake of the Woods.

“When photos surfaced of this huge pout, it certainly got people talking,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “As the reaction to this record shows, burbot have has a certain charm despite the eely looks – and at 19 pounds, what a fish.”

The fish was 33 inches long with a belly full of girth at 23-7/8 inches. Getzler caught it while fishing for walleyes with an orange jigging spoon tipped with a minnow on Dec. 19.

“Brent along with his buddies Rob Anderson and Chad Thompson thought he was battling a monster walleye and they were recording the three minute fight. But after realizing it was a ‘just a pout’ they quit filming,” Kurre said. “Little did they know the burbot was a state record, until they got it on a scale.”

Anglers can set state records for certified weight for most fish species, or catch-and-release length for muskellunge, lake sturgeon and flathead catfish. Guidelines differ for each type of record and application forms are available at www.mndnr.gov/recordfish.

In addition to the DNR’s state record fish program, anglers have the option to participate in the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame’s Master Angler Program, which recognizes 60 fish species. Information about that program is available at www.fishinghalloffamemn.com/master-anglers.

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DNR announces new special angling regulations

Trout anglers have all the more reason to visit Chatfield, Lanesboro, Preston and Spring Valley in southeastern Minnesota thanks to a change that effectively allows trout fishing all year long in these cities.

“We’re pleased to offer this new opportunity for catch-and-release stream trout fishing during the fall, when the trout season is traditionally closed,” said Ronald Benjamin, Lanesboro area fisheries supervisor. “This fills the gap between open trout seasons and makes these special regulations match the popular year-round season established in three nearby state parks.”

The change allows catch-and-release trout fishing in the fall in these cities, which means anglers can either catch and release, or catch and keep trout depending on the time of year, on the South Branch Root River in Preston and Lanesboro; Mill Creek in Chatfield; and Spring Valley Creek in Spring Valley.

“Adding this new opportunity is great for anglers and it’s sensitive to the needs of surrounding landowners. During the fall, deer hunting is a big deal here and anglers will have more places to fish, but not outside the cities where there’s a greater chance anglers could disrupt deer hunts,” Benjamin said.

The change is one among several to fishing regulations that are specific to individual waters and go into effect March 1. Following public review that wrapped up this past fall, fishing regulations will change on six lakes and three streams starting in March, while existing regulations on three lakes will become permanent and a regulation on one lake will be extended.

These changes include new regulations that have not yet been in effect; regulations that have been in effect but will be modified or dropped; and regulations turning permanent that were reviewed and will now be in effect indefinitely.

Regulations that are specific to individual waters take precedence over statewide regulations. Special regulations can be found in their own section of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn using LakeFinder, and posted at public accesses.

Lake Vermilion (St. Louis County): Anglers on Lake Vermilion will be able to keep walleye up to 20 inches long, with one allowed over 26 inches, starting with the May fishing opener. The new regulation will require release of all fish from 20 to 26 inches with only one allowed over 26 inches. The four-fish bag limit will remain the same.

Little Webb Lake, Moccasin Lake and Lake Thirteen (Cass County): Five-fish bag limits on sunfish and on black crappie on Little Webb and Moccasin lakes, and a bag limit of five on sunfish for Lake Thirteen, are being adopted and will be reviewed after 10 years to evaluate how well they maintain quality sunfish and crappie for anglers.

Sections of the South Branch Root River in Preston and Lanesboro; Mill Creek in Chatfield; and Spring Valley Creek in Spring Valley (Fillmore and Olmsted counties): Catch-and-release fishing allowed roughly within these city limits from Oct. 15 through Dec. 31. Although the boundaries of where anglers can fish through this change roughly encompass the length of the streams in these four cities, the boundaries are not the actual city limits. Specific boundaries will be listed in the Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, available in March.

Carnelian Lake and Pleasant Lake (Stearns County): Experimental regulations on sunfish that have been in effect since 2007 will become permanent. A reduced bag limit of five sunfish were shown to have effectively maintained quality populations of sunfish.  

Sugar Lake (Wright County): Northern pike and black crappie experimental regulations that have been in effect since 2007 have shown to improve the sizes of northern pike and crappie and will become permanent.

Bowstring and Round lakes and connected waters (Itasca County): Experimental regulations on northern pike will be dropped and return to the statewide regulation. The regulation objective to encourage harvest of abundant small pike will likely be achieved by the new northern pike zone regulation set to be adopted in the spring.

Sand Lake and connected waters (Itasca County): Implemented with regulations on Bowstring and Round lakes, the experimental regulations on northern pike will be continued for one year, allowing additional time to collect survey data in 2017 before making a final decision on retaining or dropping next fall.  

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Vermilion walleye regulation to change

Anglers on Lake Vermilion in northeastern Minnesota will be able to keep walleye up to 20 inches long, with one allowed over 26 inches, starting with the May fishing opener, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The new regulation will require release of walleye from 20 to 26 inches, a change that is less restrictive compared to the current regulation that requires release of walleye from 18 to 26 inches. The four fish bag limit will remain the same.  

“Lake Vermilion has abundant walleye with good numbers of large females,” said Edie Evarts, Tower area fisheries supervisor with the DNR. “The regulation change allows slightly more harvest while still protecting plenty of mature female walleye that produce future year classes.”

The DNR considered and modeled several options for the regulation change, and sought opinions from the public, as well as from the Lake Vermilion Fisheries Input Group that represents lake and statewide interests.

The group generally was in favor of a regulation change although had no majority opinion on a specific regulation. The broader public also had a range of preferences, with two-thirds supporting a regulation change and one third preferring no change.

“We went through a rigorous regulation review that allowed us to take the biological and sustainability considerations into account while trying to satisfy a diverse angling public,” Evarts said.

The DNR chose the 20-to-26 inch protected slot because it has a lower risk of harvesting too many fish and is in line with public input indicating a preference for less risk.

Getting here
In Lake Vermilion, walleye abundance has remained relatively steady during the last 20 years and the proportion of mature females in the population has increased.

Harvest levels have changed over the years. In 2006, regulations were put in place that had a protected slot, which requires release of certain lengths of fish, and a reduced bag limit. The goal was reducing walleye harvest to a sustainable level – 65,000 pounds for the open water fishing season – following years in 2002 and 2003 when harvest had been more than 22,000 pounds above that level.

More recently, harvest has been significantly lower, falling to the 40,000 to 45,000 pound range. This lower harvest allowed the DNR to consider a less restrictive regulation while also taking into consideration the health of the fishery, potential harvest levels and public interest.
More information on Lake Vermilion is available at www.mndnr.gov/lakevermilion.

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No additional deer test positive for CWD in southeastern Minnesota

DNR asks deer hunters to use head boxes in Lanesboro, Preston, Chatfield, Harmony

No additional deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease from samples collected this fall in southeastern Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Nearly one-third of all deer harvested during southeastern Minnesota’s first firearms deer season and the first three days of the second season were tested for CWD. Only two of the 2,866 deer tested returned positive results. Both were harvested about 1 mile apart west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348.

“This was an extensive surveillance effort,” said Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “While we’re disappointed we found two positive deer, we remain optimistic the infection is localized and not widespread throughout the southeast.”

The DNR now is planning and implementing its CWD response plan, which will include a December public meeting announcing the response plan details and continued opportunities for hunters in permit areas 347 and 348 to have their harvested deer tested.

Hunters can get a simple form, complete it and place it – along with the head of a harvested deer – in boxes located at the:

  • Preston forestry office, 912 Houston St., Preston.
  • Lanesboro fisheries office, 23785 Grosbeak Road., Lanesboro.
  • Magnum Sports, 20 Main St. S., Chatfield.
  • Oak Meadow Meats, 50 9th St., Harmony.

Samples are submitted for testing weekly. Test results become available the following week. Hunters will only be notified if a deer tests positive for CWD.

Instructions on how to use the head boxes are at the boxes and available on the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

“The DNR is in the process of developing more specific CWD management actions,” Cornicelli said. “We will engage and fully inform the affected communities – particularly landowners – as we develop and implement quick and aggressive response actions that can limit the spread of the disease.”

CWD is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. Prior to this discovery, the disease was only found in a single other wild deer harvested near Pine Island in 2010.

The DNR discovered the two infected deer during this fall’s enhanced CWD surveillance program, which was initiated because the region abuts Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected by CWD and the disease has been detected in northeastern Iowa’s Allamakee County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat. Still, the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have CWD. Hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • If you do shoot a deer that acts abnormally or appears emaciated, report your harvest to your area DNR office.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer.
  • Bone out the meat from the animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
  • If hunters have a deer or elk commercially processed, request that the animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from their animal.
CWD is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. The disease also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.
For more information, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, common questions and answers and hunter information, visit the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

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DNR selects members for statewide deer advisory committee

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has selected a 20-member advisory committee to provide the agency with feedback and advice on deer management as it develops a statewide deer plan.
“These committee members represent a broad range of interests,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader. “We’ll use recommendations from the committee and broader public input as we set strategic direction and guiding principles for deer management.”
Over the next year, the Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee will review technical information and also public input that will be collected this winter through regional public meetings, online and through written comments. The committee will make recommendations to the DNR for the plan that will be in effect for 10 years.
“We value this open and public process to develop the plan,” Murkowski said. “Committee recommendations and input from the public will be vitally important.”
Committee members represent archery, firearm and muzzleloader hunters as well as nonhunters; landowners; farmers; livestock producers; land managers; wildlife photographers; local government officials; community activists; natural resource scientists; public health officials; and members and employees of hunting, conservation and agricultural organizations.
Thirteen seats are being filled by invited representatives of organizations.

  • 1854 Treaty Authority, Andy Edwards.
  • Bluffland Whitetails Association, Michael Sieve.
  • Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners, Nathan Eide.
  • Minnesota Conservation Federation, Gary Botzek.
  • Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Craig Engwall and Denis Quarberg (two seats).
  • Minnesota Department of Health, Jenna Bjork.
  • Minnesota Farm Bureau, Kevin Paap.
  • Minnesota Farmers Union, Rod Sommerfield.
  • Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership, Dennis Thompson.
  • Quality Deer Management Association, Pat Morstad.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Meredith Cornett.
  • Women Hunting and Fishing in all Seasons, Diane Smith.

Additionally, seven “at-large” committee members were selected from an open call for applications this fall. More than 200 people applied to participate on the committee. Applicants were selected based on criteria including their knowledge of deer management, interests related to deer, familiarity with different areas of the state, and their interest and experience working collaboratively with a diverse group of individuals.

  • Ted Brenny, Mazeppa.
  • James Buchwitz, Strathcona.
  • Daniel Butler, Cohasset.
  • Kevin Goedtke, Fulda.
  • Yeng Moua, Brooklyn Park.
  • Bernard Overby, Kenyon.
  • Rebecca Strand, Shafer.

The plan is expected to be finished by the spring of 2018. More information about the planning process and the committee is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan.

The DNR strives to maintain a healthy wild deer population that offers recreational and economic opportunities, while addressing conflicts between deer, people and other natural resources. Habitat management, hunting, research and monitoring are several primary tools used to manage the Minnesota deer population. More information on deer management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

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