The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers who might want to keep northern pike when the season opens on May 15 to familiarize themselves with the regulations and be prepared to measure the fish.
“Sometimes anglers who catch northern pike are fishing for other types of fish and aren’t sure what to do with that toothy pike on the line,” said Bethany Bethke, DNR fisheries research scientist. “We want these anglers to be equipped with the knowledge they need to keep a pike if that’s their desire.”
Minnesota has three northern pike zones that apply to inland waters and reflect the differing characteristics of pike populations across the state:
• North-central: Limit of 10 northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all fish 22 to 26 inches must be released.
• Northeast: Two northern pike; anglers must release all fish 30 to 40 inches, with only one fish over 40 inches allowed in possession.
• South: Two northern pike; minimum size 24 inches.
The DNR implemented the zone regulations in 2018 following extensive public input and comments. In the north-central zone, the northern pike regulations address angler concerns about the over-abundance of small, or hammer-handle, northern pike.
In the southern zone, where reproduction is limited, the regulation is designed to increase pike abundance while also increasing the size of fish harvested. In the northeastern zone, the regulations aim to protect large pike.
“Northern pike can be delicious table fare. We encourage anglers to know the regulations and give a meal of pike a try,” Bethke said. “Northern pike require a little more work while filleting, and anglers can check the DNR website and other online sources for how-to videos on cleaning northern pike.”
Throughout the state, special regulations that cover individual lakes, rivers and streams remain in effect and take precedence over the zone regulations. The northern pike zone regulations do not apply to border waters.
More information about northern pike zones, including a zone map, is available at mndnr.gov/fishing.
Regional fishing reports available
Anglers looking for local information before the Saturday, May 15, fishing opener for walleye, bass, northern pike and trout in lakes can gain local knowledge from regional fishing reports by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The regional fishing reports include details about waters throughout each region, and can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/fishing by clicking on “Fishing outlooks by region.”
DNR urges people to leave deer fawns alone
Deer fawns are being born at this time of year and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources asks that people avoid disturbing or touching them.
Most fawns are born from mid-May to mid-June, and they do not attempt to evade predators during their first few weeks of life. Instead, they remain still to avoid being seen. During these times, fawns are learning critical survival skills from their mothers but are often left on their own while their mothers forage nearby.
Be assured deer fawns do fine even if they look abandoned or fragile. Even if a fawn is wounded or abandoned as a result of car strike or animal attack, people should not transport it before speaking with a wildlife rehabilitator. More information about what people should do if they find fawns or other species of baby wild animals is available on the DNR website.
Bear hunt application deadline is May 7
Prospective bear hunters have through Friday, May 7, to apply for a bear hunting license in lottery areas. Applications for the 2021 season should be submitted online or via telephone at 888-665-4236.
A total of 3,575 licenses are available in 13 permit areas. The fee to apply is $5. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $230 for nonresidents. The season is open from Wednesday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 17.
Lottery winners will be notified by June 1. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Sunday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
The no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota is not part of the lottery drawing and will have an unlimited number of licenses available that may be purchased starting July 1.
Overall, bear permit numbers for quota areas have remained unchanged since last year to allow bear population numbers to gradually increase and support a robust bear population. Bear hunting information is available on the DNR website.
Take a Mom Fishing Weekend is May 8-9
Take a Mom Fishing Weekend — when Minnesota-resident moms can fish without purchasing a license — is Saturday, May 8, to Sunday, May 9. This special weekend is defined in Minnesota statutes as the weekend that coincides with Mother’s Day.
Most years, under Minnesota law, the fishing opener and Take a Mom Fishing Weekend fall on the same weekend, but not this year. Per state law, the 2021 fishing opener is Saturday, May 15.
Though the walleye season won’t be open for the 2021 Take a Mom Fishing Weekend, fishing is open for several other species, including crappie, sunfish, and under-appreciated fish like buffalo, sucker, bullhead or sheepshead.