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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Fishing limits in state and tribal waters

Q. I was reading the story on the Red Lake recovery 15 years later (Page E1, April 6). Loved the article. I sure am glad the days of widespread netting are gone. You said tribal members are limited to hook-and-line fishing. Are they limited to the same limit as nontribal fishermen? If not, what is their limit per day catch?

A. The limits in state and tribal waters of Upper and Lower Red lakes are different. According to Pat Brown, tribal fisheries biologist for the Red Lake Band, tribal hook-and-line anglers supplying walleyes for the fish plant in Redby, Minn., are limited to 100 walleyes a day and must release all fish measuring 20 inches to 28 inches. Fishing is hook-and-line only, but members can use an unlimited number of lines.

Tribal members fishing for subsistence face a 10-fish limit and must release all walleyes from 20 to 28 inches.

Brown said the ice fishing season in reservation waters closes the last Saturday in March, but the season in the past has been extended if ice conditions are good. It then reopens the first Saturday in May.

The fish plant does have a small crew of netters it uses later in the summer, when the walleyes move offshore and become harder to catch, to ensure the facility has enough fish to keep the fishery running. That crew has the only legal nets on the lake.

The harvest quota — the number of fish that can be taken per acre — is the same in both state and tribal waters, but the band has a higher quota in terms of total poundage because they control so much more of the lake. Both sides have come close to the quota for their respective waters the past couple of years, but the numbers are closely monitored.

According to Al Pemberton, director of the tribal Department of Natural Resources, that’s a big change from the old days, when the band would just apply to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for a larger quota and receive it without question.

If you have a question for Talkin’ with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

(701) 780-1148