Well I assume, by now, that most of you have heard the great news, but for those that haven’t… Our legislation for a higher muskie size limit passed! When the 2015 muskie season arrives we will have a statewide size limit of 54 inches!! It would take me a week to explain all of the ups and downs of this whole process, but I’ll give you an outline of where we ended up and how we got here.
We started with legislation for 55 statewide. Meanwhile, the DNR had a proposal for 50 statewide,with 56 on select waters. They recognized the need for better protection, and verified that the Leech Lake strain of muskies can grow beyond 55 inches throughout MN. Initially the DNR proposal sounded pretty good, but it had some flaws. First, we felt that 50 just wasn’t going to help much on the average smaller lakes. These lakes have the proven ability to grow fish well beyond 50 inches but harvest of just a handful of fish in the 49-51 inch range from these lakes each year really limits their ability to grow those true trophies. Next was a major concern with the DNR’s “rule change process” that would have led to a very difficult process trying to implement the 56 inch lakes. We might not have ever gotten them. Last, was the real deal breaker….throughout this process we received a ton of support from resorts who wanted a higher muskie size limit. They see the value in protecting and growing large muskies. The DNR’s two tiered approach would have left resorts on an un-even playing field, where one resort could have had a 56 inch regulation while another a few miles away, on a different lake, might have only had the 50. They did not want to be left competing against each other, with one resort losing business to another where the regulations produced larger fish.
The whole legislative process is pretty complicated, and was made more difficult by several Legislators who have a very ingrained, anti-muskie sentiment. The good news is that we’ve now made numerous allies in the Legislature, and after all of the discussions and committee hearings, some of the Legislators who initially questioned our bill turned out to be the ones who actually made it happen for us! We couldn’t have done it without their support, and there are two main reasons we got that support. The first is all of the positive input we got from the muskie angling community. Thanks to all of you who made phone calls, sent emails, and supported muskies, we were able to show the Legislators how important muskies really are! As my fellow MMPA Co-Chair John Underhill put it- we showed them the heart and soul of muskie fishing, something the Legislature had never seen before.
The second major factor in turning the tide was the support from the resort community. Without them, we would be nowhere. The following is a list of resorts that publicly supported the size limit increase. Please consider these resorts any time you are staying somewhere in muskie country, and thank them for supporting muskies!!
Lake Vermilion: Ludlow’s resort, White Eagle resort, BayView resort, Polly’s resort, Everett Bay resort, Whispering Winds resort, Pike Bay resort, Pine Tree resort, Vermilion Dam Lodge, Retreat Lodge, Glenmore resort, Spring Bay resort, Life of Riley resort, Forest Lane resort, Fortune Bay resort.
Lake Bemidji: Ruttger’s resort.
Big Lake: Dreamers resort and Campground.
Lake Plantangenet: Balsam Beach resort.
Lake Miltona: Viking Bay resort.
These are key Legislators who made this happen for us. Nothing we did would have mattered without the actions of these people. Please call or email them, and thank them for the great things they did for muskies!
Senator Thomas Bakk 651-296-8881
Representative David Dill 651-296-2190 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator John Hoffman 651-296-4154 email@example.com
Senator Matt Schmit 651-296-4264 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Carrie Ruud 651-296-4913 email@example.com
Representative Jason Isaacson 651-296-7153 firstname.lastname@example.org
The 54 inch decision came about as sort of a compromise between our plan and the DNR’s. It was something the key Legislators were more comfortable with, and I think that we all (meaning us muskie advocates, the DNR, and the Legislature) are very happy with the final outcome. In the end, even the Legislators who had questioned the need for better muskie management voted for it!
There are a few exceptions to the 54 inch regulation. The designated Tiger Muskie lakes within the Twin Cities Metro area are not included. There is also an exception written into our bill that will also allow the DNR to select specific individual waters to remain at 48 inches. This was intended for lakes with the shoepac strain of fish, which do not reach 50 inches (as far as we know). There’s no definite news on whether the DNR will choose to do this or not. And last, the border waters fall under a different statute and are not included. The MN DNR is working with neighboring states to match up season dates and length limits on those waters.
This new regulation is a giant step for muskies in Minnesota! I’m excited to see the positive long term effects it will have on our fisheries.
Thanks for your support!
MN Muskie and Pike Alliance Co-Chair