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DNR Fish and Wildlife Almanac (published May 27, 2021)

Be bear aware for the summer Hikers, campers and others recreating outdoors should be aware of bears when heading outdoors, whether for a quick hike or a longer camping trip. People can peacefully share the outdoors with bears by paying attention to where and when they are most likely to encounter bears. Black bears are naturally cautious animals that avoid human contact for their safety. However, people need to do their part to prevent human-bear conflict.  This includes being proactive to avoid startling bears and securing potential food sources. Learn more about how to safely recreate in Minnesota on the DNR website.

Bass fishing, a highlight of spring    The bass fishing catch-and-keep season opens Saturday, May 29, and spring is a great time to cast a line for these fun-to-catch fish. Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be easier to catch in spring and early summer when they spend more time in shallow water. Later, as water temperatures rise, bass move to deeper water in search of sunken points, rocky humps and aquatic plant edges that offer protection from larger fish and hiding places for prey. Learn more about how to fish for bass and other species at the DNR’s learn to fish webpage.

DNR reminds Mille Lacs anglers of June 1 catch-and-release walleye regulations Walleye anglers on Mille Lacs Lake are reminded the catch and release walleye season on starts June 1st and  to check the fishing regulations. Currently, Mille Lacs Lake anglers can keep one walleye from 21-23 inches, or one over 28 inches, through Monday, May 31. Walleye fishing will be catch-and-release from Tuesday, June 1, through Wednesday, June 30. A two-week closure — implemented to reduce hooking mortality — will be in place from Thursday, July 1, through Thursday, July 15. During the walleye closure, angling is allowed for all other species. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will resume on Friday, July 16, and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 15.  The limit of one walleye from 21-23 inches, or one over 28 inches, is scheduled to resume Thursday, Sept. 16, through Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Fishing hours on Mille Lacs Lake are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all species. Beginning Saturday, June 5, muskellunge and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches can fish after 10 p.m. During the late season, beginning on Sept. 16, anglers will also be allowed to fish from 6 a.m. to midnight. Mille Lacs Lake fishing regulations are available on the DNR website.

How anglers can buy combination licenses and redeem vouchers It’s the time of year when anglers and hunters are buying new fishing and hunting licenses. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made a change this year that brings the DNR into compliance with federal and state laws and helps prevent licenses from being issued to those with violations or unpaid fines. The change requires both spouses who purchase a married combination license to provide and verify their DNR customer records for these licenses.

If purchasing in person, both spouses must be present. If both are not present, one spouse may purchase their part of the license and their spouse may obtain their license at a later date at no additional charge using a spouse voucher number.

Anglers should remember to redeem their vouchers. Redeeming the voucher is quick and easy. Without redeeming the voucher, the spouse with the voucher cannot legally fish. More information about purchasing combination licenses is available on the DNR website.

Reporting fish die-offs helps the DNR and others respond when needed The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources would like the public’s help in reporting fish die-offs in lakes and streams. Die-offs happen occasionally and usually result from natural causes. People should call the state duty officer at 651‐649‐5451 or 800‐422‐0798 if they encounter several dead fish in a lake or a stream. Doing so provides a single point of contact for the incident. The state duty officer is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

If there is an immediate threat to life or property, call 911 first. For general information, people may also contact area DNR fisheries offices, but this is not the best way to report fish kills.

In mid-spring and summer, groupings of dead fish usually are the result of a common bacterial infection referred to as columnaris. Columnaris tends to affect fish as water temperatures warm and fish are stressed from the energy they spent on spawning. More information on fish kills is available on the DNR website.

DNR cautions lakeshore property owners about using hydraulic jets The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources frequently receives questions about devices that generate water current to blast muck and plants away. Sold under various trade names, the DNR refers to these devices generically as hydraulic jets. Even though you can buy one, they cannot be used in any way that disturbs the bottom of the lake or uproots plants.

A person may legally operate a hydraulic jet if it is placed high enough off the lake bed so that it does not disturb the bottom or destroy rooted aquatic plants. It should be directed upward toward the water’s surface, which can prevent dead vegetation and duckweed from collecting around docks and boat lifts.

Aquatic plants are important to lakes. They help maintain water clarity, prevent erosion, stabilize the bottom and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Lakeshore property owners can legally remove some aquatic vegetation for access. Depending on the control method, type of plant, or size of the control area, a permit may be required.

Specific regulations govern what situations require permits for aquatic plant removal. Regulations and a guide to aquatic plants can be found on the DNR website. To apply for a permit, visit the DNR’s permitting and reporting system.