Published October 07, 2012, 12:00 AM

OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Winter fishing regs on Upper Red Lake, Conservation poll etc.

The bag limit for the winter season on Upper Red Lake will be four walleyes with a 20- to 26-inch protected slot — same as it is for the summer season after mid-June. Previously, the winter limit on Upper Red reverted to four walleyes, with a 17- to 26-inch protected slot, beginning Dec. 1.

By: Compiled by Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

DNR relaxes winter fishing regs on Upper Red Lake

It’s not quite official, but it’s all but assured that anglers on Upper Red Lake will be able to keep larger walleyes this winter than they have during previous ice fishing seasons, according to an official from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Henry Drewes, regional fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji, said Commissioner Tom Landwehr has approved a proposal to relax the protected slot limit this winter on Upper Red and allow anglers to keep larger walleyes.

The bag limit for the winter season will be four walleyes with a 20- to 26-inch protected slot — same as it is for the summer season after mid-June. Previously, the winter limit on Upper Red reverted to four walleyes, with a 17- to 26-inch protected slot, beginning Dec. 1.

Drewes said the DNR was able to implement the relaxed slot — which has been forwarded to the Minnesota attorney general’s office for final approval, a standard rulemaking procedure — because the annual walleye harvest the past two years has been lower than the target.

For the fishing year that starts Dec. 1, Drewes said the target walleye harvest is 84,000 to 168,000 pounds, and anglers this year kept about 70,000 pounds of walleyes.

Because fishing on Upper Red is so good from the May fishing opener to mid-June, when the walleye limit is four with a 17- to 26-inch protected slot, Drewes said loosening the restrictions in the spring wasn’t an option.

“We really can’t do much during the spring, which is the first month (of season) because the bite can be so explosive that even changing length regulations a bit can have a huge effect,” Drewes said. “The winter season is when we have the greatest flexibility to adjust.”

Drewes said the change simplifies winter regulations, because limits won’t revert to the 17- to 26-inch protected slot Dec. 1. He said the DNR again will conduct a creel survey this winter on Upper Red to measure fishing pressure and harvest.

“We’re hoping it does stimulate some additional harvest and angler trips,” Drewes said of the relaxed regulation. “We think this should be appealing to anglers.”

— Brad Dokken

Poll shows support for conservation issues

A recent poll conducted for the National Wildlife Federation shows hunters and anglers want more attention given to conservation issues during the political campaigns now underway.

Conducted by the GOP-aligned polling firm Chesapeake Beach Consulting, the poll of 800 hunters and anglers shows that, given a choice between protecting public lands and prioritizing production of oil, gas and coal, 49 percent want to protect public lands, while only 35 percent favored fossil fuel production.

Among poll respondents, 81 percent also believe BP should be held accountable and fined the maximum amount allowed for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster and should have to pay for ensuring the recovery of fish and wildlife populations.

Nearly half of the people survey ranked conservation as important as gun rights; 56 percent of Democrats indicated gun rights and conservation are equally important, while 50 percent of Republicans believe gun rights are the most important issue.

Survey respondents were 42 percent Republican, 32 percent independent and 18 percent Democrat.

On the Web:

— Herald staff report

S.D. proposes nonresident license fee increases

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is asking for an increase in several nonresident hunting license fees to bring in more than $1 million in additional revenue next year.

A nonresident 10-day small game license would increase by $10 to $120, while an annual shooting preserve license would go up by $10 to $95. Two nonresident shooting preserve licenses would go up $5, with a one-day costing $40 and a five-day costing $70.

Nonresident waterfowl licenses would go up $10, with a 10-day running $120 and a three-day costing $85.

South Dakota’s hunting industry commonly draws outdoor enthusiasts from Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

— Associated Press

Did you know?

- The makers of Windsor Canadian whisky again this fall are releasing 300 banded pheasants across North Dakota as part of their “After the Hunt” promotion. Hunters age 21 and older who shoot one of the birds and call the telephone number on the band are eligible for several prizes and Scheel’s gift certificates. Windsor also will donate $1,500 to the North Dakota Wildlife Federation as part of the campaign.

- The DNR has closed the campgrounds at Zippel Bay State Park on Lake of the Woods until next spring to accommodate the harvest of decaying jackpine stands. The rest of the park remains open, but visitors will encounter noise from the logging equipment.