Governor Tim Walz’s New DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen with Jim Nickel, PLA Board of Directors
Hall of Fame Fishing Guides Tom Neustrom and Al Linder
On Thursday, February 21, 2019 I had the great opportunity in a round table set up to meet and talk about Pelican Lake with DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. Minnesota has 1.4 million licensed anglers. We have 11,842 lakes, and 5,500 of these lakes are managed by the DNR. The top 10 to 20 lakes are receiving all the attention with slot and reduced limits. Pelican Lake has been on a serious slide with our walleye population. A six walleye limit with one over 20 inches is not acceptable. I suggested a reduced four walleye limit with one over 20 inches. This suggestion will still not help our walleye lake population, but maybe psychologically may make our fishermen more aware of our lake needs. Hall of Fame Legionary Fishing Guides Tom Neustrom and Al Linder were very supportive of this suggested change. They both have high confidence in Brad Parsons, DNR Fisheries Chief, and Marc Bacigalupi, Brainerd Area Fisheries Manager, to make a difference on Pelican Lake.
Jim Nickel, PLA Board of Directors
Fishing is one of the most popular ways for our members to enjoy the Pelican Lakes. As such, PLA is coordinating with the Pelican Lakes Conservation Club to monitor the conditions of the fisheries, to advocate for them, and to take action, consistent with DNR guidance, to maintain and improve the health and abundance of the fish populations in the Pelican Lakes.
In addition to tracking traditional testing on the lakes conducted by the DNR, Pelican Lake Association will be advocating for research and long-term planning into the impact of zebra mussels on the fisheries and steps that can be taken to reduce any negative impacts of AIS on our fishing.
Big Pelican has been designated by the Minnesota DNR as one of five lakes in the state worthy of special focus to preserve the water quality essential to supporting critical habitat for bait fish, and the sport fishing they support. PLA activities include monitoring water quality, promoting forestation and managing shoreline environments all go toward the goal of preserving the fisheries enjoyed on our lakes for so long.
Last fall the DNR completed their annual Walleye Electrofishing test of this year’s stocking fry. The survival rate was again below the Pelican Lake Management Plan. The operational plan called for walleye fingerling stocking in our lake.
The plan states:
Stock walleye fingerlings on a contingency basis if fall electrofishing results in a catch rate of less than 30 year of young walleyes/hour for two consecutive years. Fingerlings to be stocked at a rate of 0.75 pounds/littoral acre (2,933 lbs), but for no more than two consecutive years.
Action plan: The DNR and Pelican Lakes Association has stocked close to 115,000 walleye fingerlings in Pelican Lake in October. The Jim Lewis Memorial Fund along with Pelican Lakes Association matching funds has allowed for a private purchase of 18,000 walleye fingerlings that were stocked along with the DNR walleye fingerling stocking.
Future Objectives: The next step is to determine how we maximize the growth and survival of these walleye fingerlings. We can do this by protecting them through potential reduced limits and a potential slot limit for our producing females. We need to remember that the current state law allows for only one walleye over 20 inches to be kept in a limit. The large population of zebra mussels are bound to be affecting the competition for zooplankton which is a main food source for walleye fry and the lack of abundance of yellow perch may be current and future scientific objectives for our precious walleye resources in Pelican Lake.