The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently seized 234 walleye/sauger for a variety of violations on Lake of the Woods.
From Jan. 20-23, conservation officers issued 67 summonses and 66 warnings, reporting 23 instances of over-limits, 14 cases of anglers using extra lines, 12 anglers with no fishing licenses, and five cases of illegal length fish in possession.
“It was a little bit of everything that, when combined, can result in some hefty fines,” said 1st Lt. Pat Znajda, DNR Enforcement Division district supervisor in Thief River Falls.
In many instances, officers observed anglers violating fish cleaning and fish consumption rules on the lake, as well as ignoring mandated size restrictions. Transportation of fish without the required head, tail, fins and skin intact was also common.
“This year seems to be getting worse for these types of violations,” said Znajda. “It’s not like these are new regulations; folks should know the rules.”
Anglers are reminded that they must keep the carcasses of the fish they fillet on the ice until the fish are consumed. Once consumed, the carcasses can be discarded, but not on the ice or in the water.
“The carcasses of the fish filleted on the ice must be available for inspection by a conservation officer,” Znajda said. “If they are frozen or cut up, it’s a violation.”
Anglers choosing to have their fish filleted by DNR licensed commercial fish packers can possess their processed fish on the ice, so long as it is properly labeled by the licensed packer. These fish count toward the angler’s possession limit.
Znajda said anglers spending multiple days on Lake of the Woods, or other lakes with special regulations such as Upper Red and Leech lakes, can keep a few things in mind to remain legal while taking their fish home:
- Daily and possession limits are the same; if anglers eat a fish they caught that day, it still counts toward their daily limit.
- Anglers should not clean the fish they are taking home while they’re still on the ice.
- Filleted sauger will be counted as walleye.