New fishing regulations, more opportunities for anglers

(Released February 26, 2015)
Anglers will have more opportunities to fish for bass, sturgeon and trout this year thanks to changes in Minnesota’s fishing regulations.
“This will be a great year to expand your fishing horizons in Minnesota,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “There will be a new catch-and-release bass season and additional opportunities to fish for sturgeon and stream trout. Muskellunge will get greater protection, giving anglers more chances to catch one of our state’s most prized trophies.”
Fishing regulation changes are summarized on page six of the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, which will be available by Sunday, March 1, at any license agent or online.
Bass fishing expands
Beginning Saturday, May 9, anglers in most of the state can catch and release bass until the regular harvest season opens Saturday, May 23. Meanwhile, anglers in northeast Minnesota can continue to catch and keep bass during these two weeks. Northeast Minnesota is defined as essentially north and east of U.S. Highway 53.
“This new catch-and-release bass season means that anglers statewide can fish for bass starting on the May 9 walleye and northern pike opener,” Stevens said. “Anglers have long asked for more chances to fish for bass in the early part of the fishing season.”
In past years, anglers could not fish for bass until Memorial Day weekend outside northeastern Minnesota. But in the new two-week catch-and-release season, anglers can fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass. All bass caught during this two-week period must immediately be released.
In another bass season change, the fall closure on harvest of smallmouth bass has been lifted in the northeast.
“We’ve heard from anglers in the northeast who have long wanted more opportunities to harvest fish for meals, especially in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area,” Stevens said. “Smallmouth bass populations in the northeast have grown in recent years, and increased harvest of these fish should have minimal impact on bass populations.”
Interested in doing more bass fishing in Minnesota this year? Learn moreonline.
Sturgeon fishing opportunities expand
Anglers will have more opportunities to fish for lake sturgeon starting March 1. However, season dates differ depending on location.
On inland waters and Minnesota waters bordering North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, a new catch-and-release season will allow anglers to fish for lake sturgeon from June 16 until April 14, a season lasting nearly 10 months. Anglers here cannot fish for lake sturgeon from April 15 to June 15, a closure intended to protect the fish during their spawning season.
On Minnesota waters bordering Canada there are harvest, catch-and-release and closed seasons for lake sturgeon. On waters bordering Wisconsin, there is a lake sturgeon harvest season in the St. Croix River south of Taylors Falls including Lake St. Croix, but otherwise all waters have catch-and-release lake sturgeon seasons that differ depending on date and location. Season details can be found in the border waters section of the fishing regulations on the Fish Minnesota website or on page 43 of the 2015 Fishing Regulations booklet, which will be availableonline on March 1.
Comebacks staged by lake sturgeon in recent years are making new fishing opportunities possible. Sturgeon numbers grew because of improved water quality, dam removals and restorative stocking efforts, according to Stevens. Yet, despite success stories, lake sturgeon populations remain in recovery mode.
“While it is a positive step to have populations healthy enough for catch-and-release sturgeon angling, the DNR will continue to carefully monitor sturgeon population numbers to make sure they stay healthy,” Stevens said.
Anglers also will find new regulations for shovelnose sturgeon, a species found mostly in the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River below St. Anthony Falls.
Muskie minimum length increased
This year, the minimum length limit to keep a muskie is 54 inches. The previous limit was 48 inches. Various muskie angling organizations supported the change.
“This change will help maintain Minnesota’s place as a nationally recognized destination for trophy muskie angling,” Stevens said.
Exceptions to the new 54-inch minimum length limit apply for muskie-northern pike hybrids, also called tiger muskie, in the seven-county metro area, where the minimum length limit remains 40 inches on certain lakes.
2015 Fishing regulation booklet
Anglers are encouraged to read the 2015 fishing regulations booklet to review these and other changes, including:
  • Expanded seasons for stream trout, both in streams and winter fishing in lakes.
  • New limits and seasons on Minnesota waters bordering Canada, including a new size restriction for walleye that becomes effective March 1 (only one walleye will be allowed in possession over 20 inches, where previously there was no size restriction).
  • The flathead catfish season will close in winter.
Anglers are also reminded to check online for the latest additions or corrections. In addition, changes to special or experimental regulations may be in effect, and are listed by lake online and in the special regulations section of the printed booklet.