Walleye and sauger regulations on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River are changing starting Friday, March 1, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday in a reminder to anglers.

The winter regulations on Lake of the Woods that begin March 1 will match the current summer regulations, reducing the aggregate walleye and sauger limit from eight to six, with no more than four walleyes. The protected slot limit remains in effect that requires anglers to immediately release any walleye between 19.5 and 28 inches, with only one fish over 28 inches allowed in possession.

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"These are extremely popular destinations not only in the spring, but all year long," said Phil Talmage, area fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Baudette, Minn. "We're spreading the word to anglers to make sure they're aware of the new regulations."

On the Rainy River and in Four-Mile Bay, a catch-and-release season will be in effect March 1 to April 14. The current Rainy River spring season regulation allows anglers to keep two walleyes or saugers and requires the immediate release of walleye 19.5 inches in length or larger.

The new regulations on both waters help ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource while maintaining fishing opportunities.

On Lake of the Woods, the changes are a response to expanding winter fishing pressure that has pushed the sauger harvest above management objectives. The annual target harvest is 250,000 pounds, but anglers currently keep 400,000 pounds of saugers.

Ice fishing accounted for 80 percent of the annual sauger harvest, DNR creel surveys show.

The changes on the Rainy River are a response to increasing spring fishing pressure and longer periods of open water that led to higher walleye harvest, particularly male walleye, in the spring.

More information about Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River, the new management plan and a document detailing public comments and DNR responses to frequently asked questions can be found at www/mndnr.gov/lakeofthewoods.