Northern pike anglers on Minnesota inland waters will face new regulations beginning with the general fishing opener Saturday, May 12.
The new regulations technically take effect March 1, but fishing for pike isn't allowed on Minnesota inland waters until the May 12 opener.
The regulations split the state into three zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources said.
In the north-central zone, which encompasses most of Minnesota including the northwest, anglers will be able to keep 10 northern pike, the DNR said. All pike from 22 inches to 26 inches must be released, and anglers can keep no more than two pike longer than 26 inches in their 10-fish limit. Pike taken by spearing follow the same rules, although one pike can be between 22 and 26 inches in length, and one can be longer than 26 inches.
The goal of the regulations in the north-central zone is to reduce the overabundance of small pike.
Here's a look at the regulations in the northeast and southern zones.
• Northeast: Anglers can keep two pike and must release all northerns from 30 inches to 40 inches in length, with one longer than 40 inches allowed. The goal is to maintain the opportunity to keep pike while protecting the large fish already present in this part of the state.
• Southern zone: There's a two-pike limit with a minimum size of 24 inches for both angling and spearing. The goal is to increase pike numbers and improve the size of fish that are kept.
The new regulations, which came after an extensive public-input process, originally were supposed to take effect last spring but a legal snag delayed the rules. Last February, an administrative law judge ruled the DNR first had to repeal a one-pike-over-30-inches regulation that existed in state statute before she could sign off on the change.
That rule was rescinded during the 2017 Minnesota legislative session.