DNR’s Quality Bluegill Initiative aims to address shrinking fish size

DNR’s Quality Bluegill Initiative aims to address shrinking fish size

JANESVILLE, Minn. (KEYC) — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for angler input on whether to keep fewer bluegill on a handful of the state’s lakes.

“The numbers are up or steady, but the size has continually declined,” said Brandon Eder, Assistant Area Supervisor of Waterville Area Fisheries.

The DNR’s Quality Bluegill Initiative is looking at reducing bag limits from 20 to five on a number of proposed lakes across the state in response to shrinking bluegill size.

“The main goal is to get folks to keep fewer big bluegills. If you severely reduce limits, folks are limited to five big bluegills,” said Eder.

The citizen-driven initiative only has a couple of lakes in southern Minnesota currently on the proposal.

“It initially was supposed to be a statewide effort, but that’s a big cut from 20 fish to five fish statewide. So we picked out lakes that we thought would be good where regulations could be successful. We’re proposing two lakes, Tetonka in Waterville and Mazaska by Faribault so people by Mankato may not be as invested in this, but there will be another round of proposals next year and hopefully a third round in two years. We have our eyes on a couple around Mankato, obvious ones that everyone goes to,” said Eder.

Signs are up at the proposed lakes where special regulations are considered and the next step is gathering public input from anglers at the DNR’s website.

“If you live out on Washington Lake and want to talk about Washington, you can do that. If you have a cabin up in Grand Rapids, that’s fine. If you want to talk about any or all lakes in Minnesota, you’ll have that option,” said Eder.

If the proposal wins public support and is approved the regulations on the proposed lakes should go into effect next spring.

For anglers hitting the sunfish this time of year the DNR suggests only keeping a couple bigger fish.

“If you run into a pile of these giant male bluegills building their nests, take a couple, throw the rest back. Let them be in the lake and do their thing. They’re vulnerable right now, they’re easy to catch, easy to eat. Right now is a really easy time to do some harm to the size of these bluegill populations,” said Eder.

For more information on the initiative you can head to https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/sunfish/index.html.

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