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How Do Officials Set State Fishing Limits?

Wide Open Spaces
Anglers often wonder what goes into the decisions that determine their fishing limitations, specifically the amount of a particular species that can be retained on any given day.

Seasons, spawning patterns, population numbers and a wide variety of other factors play a role, but there isnt always a completely transparent perspective of how and why rules are put in place.

Sparked by a recent St. Paul Pioneer Press article about the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and their constant fish surveys, we wanted to pose the question to you and find out what you think is done well, and not so well, when it comes to fishing regulations in your area.

Most state fishing departments conduct surveys, much like those in the Pioneer Press article, to closely estimate the population sizes of certain fish in certain bodies of water. Whether itís electrofishing, netting or some other method, the quick count and release technique is one of the major determinants for fishing limits.

Angler surveys are another way state departments are able to glean information about recreational and commercial fishing regulations. Many states go as far as to hold open public meetings and request the input of any and everyone willing to contribute information and opinion.

Beyond that, a more-than-basic understanding of fish biology and habitat within the state departments, which obviously varies from species to species, is counted on by anglers. We want to be confident that the biologists and experts working to determine the fishing limits for our states are using science, hard data and an advanced education when they make decisions.

So then, what is your opinion? Have you participated in fishing surveys that are meant to help your state with limit decisions? Do you attend public meetings for the same purpose? And ultimately, do you trust in your stateís fishing department to make the right call?