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Talkin' with Dokken: What is sport gillnetting?

Q. This past weekend, I was with a friend checking on her camper, and we stopped by the boat landing on Pelican Lake south of Detroit Lakes, Minn. There was a sign about sport gillnets having to be dried for 10 days or frozen for two days after u...

Q. This past weekend, I was with a friend checking on her camper, and we stopped by the boat landing on Pelican Lake south of Detroit Lakes, Minn. There was a sign about sport gillnets having to be dried for 10 days or frozen for two days after use because the lake has aquatic invasive species. What is sport gillnetting, and what are the regulations for it? I was having a hard time finding anything on the Minnesota DNR's website.

A. That makes two of us. It took some fishing, but I eventually rounded up some information.

According to Henry Drewes, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji, sport gillnetting is limited to whitefish and tullibees, and the season is open on several lakes in northern Minnesota at various times late in the fall. Depending on the body of water, seasons open sometime between early October and early November and close in mid- to late December.

Drewes said the number of people who participate in sport netting has fallen, and the average age is probably 65 years old. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but not by much.

"It's just a traditional fishery to get some whitefish or cisco (tullibee) for smoking," Drewes said. "Anything else has to be returned to the water. It's pretty tightly regulated, and the participation level is really declining."

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Regulations require nets to be tended at least once every 24 hours, and they can't be set in water deeper than 6 feet. Only one net is allowed, and the nets can't be more than 100 feet long and 3 feet wide.

And as you saw at the lake you visited, nets in waters designated as infested with an aquatic invasive species must be dried at least 10 days or frozen two days.

Netting is open to residents only and requires a $10 whitefish and cisco netting license.

A full rundown on the regulations is available at bit.ly/1Wa0DCL.

Related Topics: HUNTING
Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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