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DNR sets 4-walleye limit, with 1 over 20 inches, for open-water season on Upper Red

Test-netting surveys last fall revealed a robust walleye population on Upper Red.

Red Lake walleye
Red Lake walleye.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald
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BEMIDJI – Anglers fishing the Minnesota portion of Upper Red Lake will be able to keep four walleyes, with one walleye longer than 20 inches allowed, when fishing season opens Saturday, May 14, the Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.

Fishing pressure once again was very high this past winter on Upper Red, but anglers kept a “modest” 134,000 pounds of walleyes, the DNR said, based on estimates from the agency’s winter creel survey. Fishing was very good early in the winter, the DNR said, but heavy snow reduced anglers’ mobility and success rates in the later months.

Test-netting surveys last fall revealed a robust walleye population on Upper Red. The four-walleye possession limit, with one over 20-inch size restriction, is intended to keep total annual harvest within the target harvest range of 240,000 to 336,000 pounds, the DNR said.

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Anglers will be able to harvest one walleye 20-23 inches or one longer than 26 inches, with fishing allowed from 6 a.m. to midnight.

The DNR uses fall test-netting results to assess the status of the walleye population and determine how many pounds of walleyes can be sustainably harvested throughout the year. Anglers during the summer of 2021 could keep three walleyes on Upper Red, with one over 17 inches allowed.

“We are happy that anglers will have the opportunity to harvest a few more and larger fish this summer,” Edie Evarts, area fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji, said in a statement. “This is due to a combination of lower winter harvest and a desire to manage spawning stock at a level that stimulates recruitment of strong year classes.”

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Upper Red Lake location map

The Red Lake Nation and the Minnesota DNR manage walleye harvest on Red Lake under a joint harvest plan that the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee revised in 2015.

The 2022-2023 winter harvest regulations will be determined after the summer fishing season and the completion of fall assessment netting.

An Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee reviews walleye harvest totals and regulation options and provides recommendations for the state waters of Upper Red Lake.

Red Lake is actually two connected basins. Upper Red Lake covers 120,000 acres, of which 48,000 acres falls under the Minnesota DNR’s jurisdiction. The remaining 72,000 acres and all 152,000 acres of Lower Red Lake lie within the Red Lake Nation reservation boundaries.

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