GRAND RAPIDS -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to hear from anglers on a proposal to reduce bag limits on sunfish in hopes of growing larger fish.

The DNR has identified about 150 lakes where the bag limits for bluegills would either go to 5 or 10 fish depending on the lake.

Dave Weitzel is the Area Fisheries Supervisor in Grand Rapids. He says when there are fewer large bluegills in a lake, the smaller fish don't have to fight for the prime spawning areas.

These younger males in the population realize "Hey I don't have to wait to grow up to spawn, I can spawn now and get good habitat." So, they'll start spawning at an earlier age but that impacts their growth rate. The growth rate goes down. Then you have more competition among these smaller fish, numbers go up and before long you start to lose the potential to grow a large bluegill.

The proposal comes from a number of anglers, resort owners, fishing guides and other stakeholders who would like more opportunities to catch larger sunfish.

Reduced bag limits have proven successful in some cases to provide the larger fish in certain lakes.

The DNR is taking feedback through a survey this summer.  At some point this fall, the DNR will take the survey results to help determine whether to adopt the bag limit changes.

If the proposal is adopted, the new regulations on those lakes would go into effect on March 1st, 2021.

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