Published May 06, 2009, 12:00 AM

DNR may close two North Shore fishing sites

Some North Shore anglers are concerned that state fisheries officials are proposing to close fishing at the McQuade Small Craft Harbor and the Knife River Marina.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

Some North Shore anglers are concerned that state fisheries officials are proposing to close fishing at the McQuade Small Craft Harbor and the Knife River Marina.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has proposed adding both of those places to a statewide list of waters that may be closed temporarily to protect concentrations of fish.

Don Schreiner, DNR Lake Superior Area fisheries supervisor, said such closures, if implemented, would be for short periods of time, perhaps a couple of weeks. Members of the Lake Superior Steelhead Association have suggested such a temporary closure at the Knife River Marina, where juvenile steelhead sometimes congregate before moving out into Lake Superior.

At the McQuade safe harbor, a popular spot with anglers, the DNR often stocks Kamloops rainbow trout in early summer, Schreiner said. The fish might remain inside the harbor, an area of about 3 acres, for a week or more before moving into Lake Superior. Although minimum size to keep a Kamloops rainbow trout is 16 inches, some illegal fishing takes place on the stocked rainbows by anglers who don’t know or who disregard the

minimum-size limit, Schreiner said.

“In the worst case, [a closure] would be where we had stocked some fish in the harbor or we stocked them outside and they moved back in,” Schreiner said. “If they didn’t leave for a week or two and people were fishing them to beat the band and they’re not legal size … that’s the kind of situation where we’d consider closing it for a week or two.”

He said he couldn’t see a situation in which the DNR would want to close fishing outside the safe harbor.

Schreiner said he hadn’t planned to add the McQuade harbor to the list of sites that could be temporarily closed, but DNR enforcement officials suggested he add it.

Dave Koneczny of the Western Lake Superior Trolling Association supports the DNR having the authority to close those areas when necessary.

“I have full support for Don Schreiner’s message,” Koneczny said. “We’ve got to protect these fish when they first get put in from the hatchery.”

“I would personally support those closures,” said Ross Pearson, a representative of Kamloops Advocates.

Under state law, areas that the DNR might want to close for a short time must be listed as part of the law. Other examples of such seasonal closures would be some walleye spawning areas or bluegill spawning areas, said Linda Erickson-Eastwood, DNR fisheries program manager in St. Paul.

“It’s where conditions are such that the fish are vulnerable to overharvest, and we don’t want that to happen,” she said.

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