- Associated Press - Monday, March 26, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A group of Minnesota lawmakers is proposing a bill that would slow a yearslong state effort to expand muskie stocking.

The bill would put a moratorium on the Department of Natural Resources’ fish stocking plans to slowly increase the number of lakes where muskies are stocked. It would also give county officials more power to block the plans, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported .

On waters where muskies are neither native nor stocked, the bill would allow spearing and lower the minimum size to keep one that’s been caught. The minimum size is currently 54 inches (137.16 centimeters), which the bill proposes to change to 20 inches (50.8 centimeters).

Some walleye anglers and lake associations have long opposed muskie stocking efforts. Property owners along some lakes said muskies damage walleye populations. But muskie supporters and the DNR have maintained there’s no science supporting those claims.

“This has been brewing for some time,” said Republican state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria, the chief sponsor of the bill. “There are philosophical and social issues that are certainly part of this.”

Walleye are the most sought-after fish in the area, and anglers often cook their catches. Muskie anglers typically have more expensive fishing equipment and don’t kill their catches.

“Really and truly, the state fish is what everyone goes up to the cabin to catch,” Ingebrigtsen said. “Way more people want walleye than muskie, simple as that. And the muskie guys, they’re not going to lose opportunities. There are plenty of places for them to fish.”

The bill currently sits in state Senate’s environment and natural resources committee. There will be a public hearing on the bill Monday.


Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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