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Outdoor Notes for March 11

New northern pike fishing regulations coming for fishing opener

New regulations for catching and keeping northern pike will be the most significant change anglers will see when they open up the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Booklet being distributed throughout the state.

"Anyone who wants to keep pike in Minnesota's inland waters needs to take a close look at these regulations and be prepared to measure the pike they want to keep starting on the Saturday, May 12, fishing opener," stated Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in a news release.

The new fishing regulations have three distinct zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota. While not designed to manage for trophy pike, the new regulations are meant to restore pike populations for better harvest opportunities across the state for sizes that make good table fare, up to about 28 inches or so.

"It's almost go-time and we're happy to be at this point after years of discussion on these issues with pike," Stevens said. "This has been a long-running topic of conversation and is becoming reality in the 2018 fishing season."

The move toward new regulations was a response to anglers' concerns about the over-abundance of hammer-handle pike in much of central to north-central Minnesota; the low numbers of pike present in southern waters; and a desire to protect large pike in the northeastern part of the state.

The new pike harvest regulations apply to inland waters of the state.

• North-central: Limit of 10 northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all from 22 to 26 inches must be released.

• Northeast: Two pike; anglers must release all from 30 to 40 inches, with only one over 40 inches allowed in possession.

• South: Two fish; minimum size 24 inches.

Darkhouse spearing regulations for pike change slightly and those regulations are listed in the spearing section of the regulations booklet.

Meanwhile, the new pike regulations do not affect border waters fishing regulations and special regulations that cover individual lakes, rivers and streams.

For more information on the new zone regulations visit www.mndnr.gov/pike or contact a local area fisheries office. Contact information can be found in the fishing regulations booklet, available online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.

DNR fisheries seeks comments on Brainerd area lake management plans

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Brainerd area fisheries is seeking comments through March 30 on management plans for a number of Crow Wing County lakes.

Management plans describe the past, present and desired future conditions of the fishery and identify specific management activities planned for that lake or stream in the next five to 20 years. This is an opportunity for anglers and others interested to provide input on how these lakes are managed.

Every year DNR fisheries staff prepares or revises individual lake management plans for several waters in each management area. In the Brainerd area, plans for the following lakes in Crow Wing County will be reviewed:

• Bass (18-256),

• Black (18-59),

• Clinker (18-131),

• Erskine (18-9),

• Little Black Hoof (18-118),

• Little Rabbit (18-139),

• Mahnomen (18-440),

• Pennington (18-439), and

• Sagamore (18-523).

Current plans for lakes and streams in the area, as well as recent fish population assessment information are available for review at the DNR's Brainerd area fisheries office,1601 Minnesota Drive, Brainerd, between 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.Individuals also may call 218-203-4301, or email Sue.Loss@state.mn.us to request a copy of a plan or submit written comments on a plan.

Public comments on this management plan are due by Friday, March 30. Comments and suggestions on other streams and lakes in the area are welcomed at any time, and will be considered when those plans are due for review.

March naturalist programs set for Itasca State Park

Spring fever? Get outside and head down the trail with a park naturalist to see what's going on in the woods as the seasons start transitioning from winter to spring.

Do animals get spring fever, too? If there is enough snow, guests will snowshoe, and if not, hike in boots. Dress warmly and include snow boots. Call ahead at 218-699-7251 to reserve a pair of snowshoes or bring some along. The number of snowshoes available is limited.

The "Spring's a Coming!" hike will be 1:30-3 p.m. March 17. Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.

On March 20, the park will offer "Circle Time Under the Pines: D is for Deer," a children's program.

Children aged 2-5 years old may come explore and have fun at Itasca, learning about nature through stories, songs, crafts and outdoor discovery. Bring winter outdoor clothes (including snow pants and boots). If weather permits, part of the program will be exploring the outdoors. Adults must accompany children. Consider bringing a picnic lunch and enjoying lunch around the fireplace in the visitor center lobby after the program.

The event will be 10:30-11:15 a.m. March 20. Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center Classroom (look for the big building under the big pine trees).

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