To the editor,
After reading a recent column by the Herald’s Brad Dokken and some letters to the editor, my thoughts lend me to share a few ideas formed after 65 years fishing on our great lake.
Lowering limits again, to me, is the wrong approach. Not only does it limit individuals who like to fish or those who like to introduce kids or grandkids to the sport, but it leads to sorting and harming many more fish. We may be harming more fish now than when the limits were eight, 14 or even 20.
Other suggestions for protecting walleyes and saugers on Lake of the Woods:
● Reduce the number of cormorants, aka “fish ducks.” Look what it did for Leech Lake. Last September while fishing off the south tip of Buffalo, we observed swarms of cormorants flying by for over two hours.
● Commercial fishing. Years ago, netting of fish on the U.S. side was ended to protect game fish. Now, resorts and others can put out an unlimited number of houses and plow roads to Garden Island, Whiskey Flats and other hot spots. They are probably taking more fish than netters ever did, for a big profit. Limit commercialization on L.O.W.
● Ban down-rigging. They attack fish in their deepest safe havens. It’s like dragging gill nets. Few survive being drug out of the water from these depths. It is not fishing; it’s catching.
● Get rid of the northern slot limit. In the last two years, we have caught and released close to a dozen 30- or 40-inch northerns in 20-30 feet of water. What are they doing out there, you only get one guess. Remove the slot on northern pike, and raise the daily possession limit to six or more, like they do on southern lakes.
● Close the season from April 1 to May 15. Protect spawning fish.
● Sturgeon fishing. Maybe open the season longer, ease the slot allowed to be kept. What effect does this large bottom-feeder have on spawning fish in the Rainy River?
Maybe we should do what North Dakota does with their hunting seasons. Limit out-of-staters during early season or limit days they can fish.
Some or all of these suggestions could help protect our walleye and sauger numbers without limiting individual citizens’ joy of fishing.
Mike Benke Sr.