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DNR adopts plan to enhance fisheries

Creating more opportunities for anglers to hook lunker northern pike and muskellunge is the goal of a new long-range management plan adopted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"Anglers have a growing interest in catching larger fish," said Ron Payer, DNR fisheries section chief. "This long range plan establishes reasonable goals and decision making processes to responsibly manage these high-profile fisheries through 2020."

The DNR began work on the plan in 2006, with fisheries managers sharing their expertise and soliciting input from stakeholders.

The department will manage muskellunge to emphasize trophy angling opportunities in waters the fish now inhabit, and will add up to eight new muskellunge lakes during the next 12 years. New waters will be selected based on biological, physical and social considerations, including written proposals and a public meeting.

The DNR's northern pike management plan focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of existing special and experimental regulations, modifying or dropping regulations as appropriate, and potentially adding up to 19 new waters for large northern pike management.

The long-range plan describes a variety of ways the DNR will work with interested stakeholders to improve fishing opportunities for muskellunge and large northern pike. These include working with interested stakeholders to consider and evaluate potential changes to statewide regulations that may improve the size of northern pike and muskellunge.

Pokegama Lake in Itasca County will be added as a new muskellunge lake. The DNR has evaluated the 6,612-acre lake for muskellunge management and determined that it has the physical and biological characteristics necessary to support a trophy muskellunge fishery.

"The majority of public comments support stocking Pokegama with muskellunge," Payer said. "It is connected to native muskie habitat in the upper Mississippi River watershed, and our managers believe the decision to stock will not affect northern pike spearing or angling opportunities on the lake."

Gull Lake in Crow Wing County will not be managed as a muskellunge lake, Payer said. Although the lake has the physical and biological characteristics to support a trophy muskellunge fishery and muskellunge anglers strongly supported the idea, other anglers expressed strong concerns about the proposal.

Copies of the plan are available on the DNR Web site at esocid or by contacting the DNR Information Center at

(651) 296-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Compiled by Jim Johnson, sports staff.