DNR Closes Fishing on Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake Through May 16 to Protect Walleye

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Due to the late ice cover and early walleye opener, concentrations of walleye remain near the egg-collection operation at Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake. To protect the walleye, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will close the area extending from Williams Narrows upstream through the First River Flowage through Egg Lake. The closure will be in place from May 10 through May 16. No fishing will be allowed during this time in the specified area. Signs will be posted at the narrows and other access points within the closed area.

“The closure is necessary to protect adult walleye that have concentrated around the spawning site,” said Chris Kavanaugh, area fisheries manager at Grand Rapids. “It’s always a difficult decision to close the area and restrict recreational opportunities, but our first responsibility is to the long-term health of the fishery. We considered the protection offered with the protected slot limit but felt the risk of over harvest was too high.”

There was still significant ice cover on Little Cut Foot Sioux Lake on April 29 this year and egg collection activities had not started. Typically, the lake needs to be ice free for at least three days before activities begin. Waiting a few days after ice-out allows the lake to mix and attain higher levels of dissolved oxygen, which can very low at winter’s end.

“This is the first time since 1997 that the area has been closed,” said Kavanaugh. Prior to that the lake was closed about once every five or six years. Concentrations of spawning fish are likely in other areas, so anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release fishing.

The yearly walleye run at Little Cut Foot Sioux has been a major part of the statewide walleye program since the 1920s. Adult walleye are trapped and spawned, and the eggs are fertilized and transported to state hatcheries for incubating and hatching. The fry are then distributed to lakes and ponds according to individual lake management plans. A portion of the fry produced is always returned to Big and Little Cut Foot Sioux lakes.

Although this area is closed to fishing through the first week of the season, there are no restrictions on boat travel through the area. If the net and dock is still in place on May 10, there will be provisions made to allow boat travel along the north side of the channel. All of the campgrounds, resorts and public accesses in the area are open. Shore anglers may want to consider alternative opportunities at the Winnie Dam.

For more information, contact the DNR Area Fisheries Office at (218) 327-4430 or e-mail grandrapids [dot] fisheries [at] dnr [dot] state [dot] mn [dot] us.