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smallie_hawgin

Panfish Management Survey-Please let us know your thoughts

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OK folks,

We are currently doing a postcard survey within our management area and have received quite a few responses, however, we know there is a fairly strong online constituency as well. Please see below if interested.

Thanks.

Dear Interested Angler:

Over the past few decades many of our constituents have noted a decline in the overall size of panfish. In an attempt to improve sunfish size structure, we feel there are specialized fishing regulations we could implement on a few select lakes. Before proceeding with any of these more intensive management practices we would like to get an idea what our angling public thinks about them, and determine if anglers feel they are desired or needed.

Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, Little Falls Area Fisheries is conducting a random survey of anglers to assess angler attitudes about their panfishing experience and possible management actions aimed at improving sunfish populations.

Please contact Little Falls Area Fisheries Supervisor, Eric Altena with questions regarding this survey or other comments about our fisheries.

Phone: (320) 616-2450 Ext.225 or Email: eric.altena@state.mn.us

Thank you for your participation in this project. We value your opinion.

Little Falls Panfish Survey 2013

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Just bumping this up. We will be accepting responses through Jan 24th. We'd like to make sure we get all of the available interested online community.

Thanks.

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Just finished taking the survey. Is the data you're gathering being used just for the Little Falls Area Fisheries?

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Just finished taking the survey. Is the data you're gathering being used just for the Little Falls Area Fisheries?

At this point yes, however, I will presenting the information to several of our regional directors. There may be more interest statewide in looking at the issues.

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My response to the comment section (you can guess how I answered to the rest of it):

I would love to see certain lakes go beyond the 5 or 10 sunfish regulations and allow no/maybe one sunfish over a certain size limit allowed to be kept. This regulation could be raised every 3-7 years as the population potentially grows. Look at the science of it, sunfish often do not grow much once they reach sexual maturity. By allowing the harvest of smaller sunfish and encouraging the release/stocking of larger males you could ensure good populations for future generations.

Surprisingly, there is a cult of anglers who are willing to travel hundreds of miles just to catch sunfish over the 10" mark, only to release them (similar to Red Lake during the crappie boom), with nothing more than a photo. Panfish are the most fished for freshwater species' in North America, why does Minnesota (the supposed beacon of fishing in the country!) not treat them as such? People are willing to pay thousands of dollars to go and catch them all across the country (see: http://www.kingfishersociety.com/fishing.html ).

Why, as the so-called "state of fishing" do we not treat panfish as equally as we treat walleyes and muskies? Simple, because they are misunderstood. Only certain lakes are capable of producing trophy panfish, and these lakes should be protected beyond anything that we have in our current regulations. People are willing to travel hundreds of miles (and contribute tons of money to local economies) to catch these fish, and let them go with nothing more than a photo and a smile. The question is, is the Minnesota DNR willing to anger maybe a dozen local meat-hunters (who at most will have to drive another 2-5 miles to bring home a meal of fish to their family) to bring in tens of thousands of dollars (and create untold numbers of jobs through guiding, supplies, bait, etc) to satiate panfish anglers who, at times, are willing to go outstate to catch that dream bluegill/crappie; only to take a picture and let it go for someone else to catch or for it to spawn and create something better....

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Can anyone give me the size of a trophy fish for all who fish Minnesota waters. The first deer I shot with a bow, was a 105 pound doe, I received a trophy. I was taught that every deer was a trophy. I also believe every fish is a trophy. Don't change regulations for some at the cost to others. If you are not satisfied, fish or hunt harder, you will learn to appreciate what you are doing on your own. Is it a trophy if special regulations help you get something?

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I agree with Spike. There are plenty of lakes around with large panfish. it is you just do not know about them. I have not even told my dad about one of the lakes, because he will tell every guy in the shop about it. Some of these places people will laugh at because they are not know to produce any fish. Just think about Pelican Lake o its just a duck slough. There a lot of little lake just like Pelican out there you just need to get off your duff and try some of them. O and do not fish and tell!!! If you do you will not have a little honey hole. In time some one will see you fishing and then they will come by the droves. I am tried of people that want to catch a trophy fish everytime out on the lake or a shoot a trophy buck every sit. Mille Lacs is a prime example of this. Lets reduce the perch limit it will help make bigger perch. OK where are they. I remember going to Mille Lacs with my grandpa when the limit was a 100 and we would catch lots of nice perch. We never kept 200 perch, but we always caught perch. Walleyes are another good example we have messed up the natural balance of that lake. I think the limits are fine, I do not keep many fish any ways and most of the guys I fish with do not keep many either. I have to say there is the GAME HOGS that can ruin it for the rest of the people who are legal.

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Panfish (even larger ones) are alive and well in MN lakes if people are willing to put in the time and energy to find them like they used to do. In today's world of instant gratification we don't need additional restrictions to take the challenge out of fishing. Muskies, walleye, northerns, etc. are all getting restrictions put on them for trophy folks. At least keep panfish free of these regulation trappings!

One point - New Regulations are being considered based on how much someone can eat in one meal. How about the family man who only has 1 week/year for a family vacation and can only take home enough for 1 meal. I believe people should be able to put some of this renewable resource in the freezer for at least a couple meals. Do not put further restrictions on panfish!

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Panfish are really the only fish that the whole family likes to catch because you don't nessicarily have to wait as long as you have a good spot. Like bowfin said, if you want to catch a trophy, put in the time and effort to find the right lake and right spot. It makes it more special that way anyway. But can't we leave panfish for the family? My family has had fun for hours sitting and catching sunnies in the past, and then eating on them all year. ^+1 on the family man bowfin.

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Wow, I am really suprised at the comments here. I expected to here resounding support for changing the current way we regulate panfish.

I happen to disagree, sort of. I believe whole heartedly that the panfish populations could benifit from some added protection. The populations(sunfish particularly) are dependant on older/larger members to keep the population stable, by keeping the maturity age at a greater size/age to help prevent over population/stunting.

This is a problem that has happened all over Morrison, Todd, and stearns county(survey area). The problem with these lakes is, NOBODY(nearly) will keep thier limit of 4.5-6" sunfish to help reduce the population and allow any larger specimens to live to redistribute the biomass. They will fish untill they can catch and keep the few 7-9" fish that there is, further compounding the problem.

These ideas in the survey, IMO are more a effort to help balance populations and to help protect the lakes that currently have quality panfish in them. I do not believe that this is for the further expansion of a trophy mindset.

For those whom wish to be able to harvest more than a meals worth, keep your limit of SMALL 4.5- 6" fish instead of the 8"+ , you will do the lake a favor. Panfish are a table fare species to most and there isn't anything wrong with that, but we need to keep more little fish and less of the larger fish to keep the poulations balanced and healthy. We can have it both ways in this instance.

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At this point yes, however, I will presenting the information to several of our regional directors. There may be more interest statewide in looking at the issues.

Not to pick on your or your survey but... If this survey, at this point in time, is being used to make a managment decision about the Little Falls Area shouldn't those that reside/fish that area be the ones taking the survey? I just think that data you're gathering may end up being skewed by allowing anyone to take the survey. Someone that may have have never fished, or ever will, a lake you manage may be very bias. I understand your cause but would have liked to see some questions relating to where you reside, and the remainder of the questions specifc to lakes in that managment area.

This site is also very pro selective harvest, which will impact your survey results.

I just hope your collecting some good data from all the HSO users taking this.

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Good comments folks. Thanks for the discussion.

ASmoley- The postcard portion of the survey was directed at the folks exactly in the areas where there is some consideration of a few lakes altered regulations may be considered. The intent of the online survey was to see if the online community had differing opinions than the postcard survey. Interestingly, preliminary review suggests this may be true.

Please keep in mind folks, this is to gather information. If we do make a change, it would be on a select few lakes where there is the best potential based on biological, spatial and social considerations.

We will be accepting responses for the online survey through Jan 24th.

Thanks again.

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Thanks for the response SH. I'm not the least bit surprised your two sample sources would have varying opinions. I could also put a good guess where each one falls wink

When would said potential changes take effect? How long does it take to go from research to implementation?

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I want 10 qty. 10 inch + Crappies with a shot at a 12+ incher each time out as well as a shot at a 14 +incher if I fish 10 times per year.

On the Sunnies I want to be able to catch 20 8+inchers with a 9 incher here and there and a legit shot at some 10 inchers during the year.

That is all I want. You guys figure out the details. Wait....Wait.....Maybe you the DNR should tell us what you could give us via management on each lake instead of me asking for something that you obviously can't give all of us.

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