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Remember – New Walleye Regulations for 2019!

In 2005, new fishing regulations were announced for Leech Lake aimed at capping the size and number of fish each angler could take home, with the goal of ensuring the lake remained well-stocked in years to come.

It turns out that in the years since those new regulations were put in place, the walleye population of Leech Lake has successfully grown to a point where the DNR feels that these restrictions can be rolled back. This is great news for anyone planning a fishing trip to Leech Lake this spring or summer!

The 2005 Leech Lake fishing regulations — which have been in place since that year — limit each angler to a total of 4 walleye. In addition, anglers were required to immediately release any walleye measuring between 20 and 26 inches, and only one walleye over 26 inches could be included in a total of 4.

The major change to these regulations for 2019 is the removal of the protected 20-to-26 inch slot. However, note that the minimum measurement for your “big catch” was also reduced from 26 inches to 20 inches. In other words, anglers may now keep one walleye over 20 inches as part of their four-fish limit.

Here’s an example to clarify the change:

Let’s say you catch 6 walleye, measuring 14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″, and 24″.

Last season, the Leech Lake fishing regulations would have required you to release all 3 walleye that measured between 20″ and 26″. Because none of your walleye were over 26″, you would have to release all three walleye and only keep the 14″, 16″, and 18″.

This season, you may keep one walleye over 20″, so you would be able to keep the 14″, 16″, 18″, and 24″. (You could keep the 20″ or the 22″ instead of the 24″ if you felt so inclined!)

All in all, the new Leech Lake fishing regulations for the 2019 season allow anglers greater flexibility than in years past. No more frustration with having to release your catch just because it was 25.5 inches instead of 26 inches!

And of course, these new, more flexible regulations are a great sign for the overall health of Leech Lake’s game fish population. The Leech Lake Fisheries management plan that was published at the end of the 2015 fishing season did not recommend any changes in the regulations for the upcoming seasons; although it did notice some positive data about walleye population, the plan cautiously advises not making any changes unless this data continued to far exceed projections. It seems this is exactly what happened because just three seasons later, those regulations have been changed!

Keeping up-to-date on fishing regulations is important for everyone who plans to try their luck on the lake. Whether you’re a casual angler or an experienced pro, it’s always wise to re-familiarize yourself on the latest regulations to ensure you’re doing your part to ensure the lake’s sustainability for everyone (and avoid any penalties!). Check out the Leech Lake page on the DNR Website for more information about the fishing regulations for the 2019 season.

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