Panfish and Crappie limits on Sand Lake will NOT be reduced
The following is the news release from the Minnesota DNR. The underline and italics are added by this author.
“Panfish angling is a popular activity in the Itasca County area, but some anglers have expressed concern about potential declines in quality-sized panfish.
After reviewing lakes with good panfish potential, changes to sunfish limits were proposed for six lakes as well as changes to crappie limits in three of the lakes. Lakes proposed for a reduced bag limit of five sunfish were: Dixon, Blackwater/Jay Gould, Cut Foot/Little Cut Foot, Splithand, Little Splithand and Sand (near Max). Reduced bag limits of five crappies were proposed on Dixon, Sand and Splithand.
Public input was taken this fall by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which completed a review of the available fish population data and the results of the public input process. As a result, three of the sunfish proposals and one of the crappie proposals will be implemented beginning in March 2012.
Strong public support for implementing the sunfish regulation was documented for Dixon, Splithand and Little Splithand, according to Chris Kavanaugh, the area fisheries supervisor. On the other waters, public support was limited and comments indicated a concern about the effect on resorts and questioned the need for the change at this time.
Support for the crappie proposal on Splithand was strong and the regulation will be implemented. The level of support for Sand Lake was limited and identified concerns were similar to those expressed for sunfish. At Dixon Lake, public support was strong, but additional biological data collected since the proposal was made indicates the population may not benefit from a regulation and the regulation will not be implemented at this time.
The objective of the reduced bag limit regulation proposals is to maintain quality fishing opportunities for sunfish and crappie. The populations are stable in all of the lakes and there is no crisis response needed. There has been success at maintaining and even improving sunfish populations on other area lakes such as Bass and Grave that have had a five-fish bag limit on sunfish for 10 years. There is less experience with crappie regulations, and area fisheries staff stands to learn a lot from the experience on Splithand. Additional data from Sand and Dixon will help determine if another proposal is developed in the future.
Public input is an important part of the decision making process, Kavanaugh noted. The input process yielded many comments, which show that anglers are interested in these species.
“Many of the comments suggested that these lakes are healthy and don’t need harvest restrictions,” Kavanaugh said, “and that instead we should be focused on lakes with poor quality populations. Unfortunately, there are very limited tools for addressing sunfish and crappie populations that do not have the potential to produce quality fisheries. The protection of quality fisheries is the best practice in maintaining quality panfish into the future.”
Thank you to all who provided input on this issue.