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Ralph Wiggum

Sturgeon Meeting

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Just a quick reminder that there is a meeting tomorrow about the proposed changes to the fall lake sturgeon season on the St. Croix. The major change is shortening the season from 6 to 4 weeks.

Quote:

Open House - New Regulation proposal for Lake Sturgeon

Date: 10/22/2008

Time: 7 PM to 8 PM

Location: Chisago & Washington Co.: St Croix River and Lake St Croix

Washington County Gov't Center

Room 100 A & B

14949 62nd St

Stillwater

More Information: Contact Jerry Johnson at 651-259-5770.

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I will not be able to make it. frown

Hopefully someone will put in a suggestion to expand the season in exchange for catch and release only. I would support that for sure.

Although in essence changing the minimum to 60" is basically doing the same thing. I didn't hear of any 60" fish this season, I'm sure several were caught though, but it couldn't have been many.

All I know is that it would be a lot of fun to still be going over there fishing for them.

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Many times they will take phone in opinions on these types of issues after the meeting, for those who could not make the meeting. Might be worth a call to the number above.

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Here you go Ryan.

Dtro, thanks for posting the info on emailing Gerry Johnson at the DNR. I'll be finding out the comment totals in a week or so and shoot you an email for posting. Just not enough time to be everywhere!

Here's my meeting notes...that were edited for accuracy by the DNR.

Public St Croix Reg Meeting 10/22/2008

Presentation by The Area Fisheries Supervisor (East Side) Mr. Jerry Johnson and Al Stevens from Lakes and Stream Management Planning.

Also in attendance was Mr. Rod Ramsell who's partial duties were described as "Lead Worker of the Lower St Croix River Sturgeon Tagging Project ".

The presentation walked us through etiquette of the meeting, history of the Lake Sturgeon, the data that our DNR has collected since 2003 and why the proposed rules were being adopted.

Most of the info in the presentation was well known facts to us Lake Sturgeon fishers.

LKS are very long-lived animals, live to 150 years (on record)

Research Literature indicates that Females are about 24 years old before they spawn.

Females only spawn every 4 to 6 years,

LKS are very sensitive to changes in their environment such as destruction to spawning areas and degraded water quality.

The MN DNR estimates less than 4000 LKS in the Lower St Croix River.

At 50 inches, the literature indicates that LKS typically are sexually mature and have spawned once. East Metro staff are of the opinion that females in the less productive Lower St. Croix River System are closer to 55" before spawning takes place

Some of the info that was new to me was:

• Information received from recaptured fish shows that St Croix River LKS grow about 6/10ths to 9/10ths per year.

• LKS regulation in 1947 were one fish per day with a 30" minimum.

• LKS regulations in 1968 was one fish per day with a 40" minimum.

• LKS regulations in 1992 became one fish per YEAR with a 50" minimum.

Mr. Johnson stated that he/they will be proposing a LKS telemetry study this winter (for next fiscal year budget cycle) for the Lower St Croix.

There seemed to be some confusion on where the $5. LKS tag fee was being used for. To clarify, it goes to the Fish & Game Fund. It was never meant to be used specifically for Lake Sturgeon Reseach...but a portion goes to the of tracking fish taken from the Two River Systems. Revenue from the harvest tag goes into the Game and Fish fund (administered by DNR), not the General fund (the statewide, agency wide fund).

Mr. Johnson was asked what portion of the comments were against the 60" minimum size for taking St Croix Sturgeon. His response was...to date, none (however, we received one comment from the meeting opposed to the increase).

Bk Edit: this has changed over night, in part by the FM members!)

It was pretty evident, at least to me, that the dozen or so sturgeon fishers that turned out for the public meeting, were against shortening the season, they didn't care if the minimum was set to 60", but did prefer a total catch and release season.

Not only did the MN DNR's own data support moving toward catch and release, (I don’t remember presenting any data that could be interpreted this way) in my opinion, the DNR's own expert, the biologist with the most hands on experience with the St Croix LKS said he supports the 60 minimum, and also would support catch and release. He went on to say that (in his opinion) keeping the season the same length or even making it longer, with the proposed 4 week harvest season (September) and a 2 week (or 4 week) catch and release only season (October), likely would not hurt the fishery and he could support it.

Lastly, Mr. Ramsell did say that the meeting was about adopting the proposal as stated, not catch and release or keeping the season the same/or lengthening it.

Although I'm an optimist, I will be shocked if our MN laws do not reflect the wishes of the WI rule makers for the 2009 season.

One thing I did learn tonight. I now can see why we have two sets of rules on the MN/WI border waters.

It's because of people like me.

I don't want to give up my two weeks of fishing because of the state of WI...and I'm willing to have two sets of rules to keep them. They can have 4 weeks of 1 fish over 60 inches and I'll take my 6 or even 8 weeks of catch and release.

Personally, I want to thank Jerry Johnson, Al Stevens and Rod Ramsell. Yours was not an easy job tonight, but you handled it professionally as one would expect.

Our DNR has done a [PoorWordUsage] good job is creating many trophy fishing opportunities within our waters. I trust they will make the best decision for all of us in this case too.

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