New Zone-Based Pike Regs On Minnesota Inland Waters Will Be In Effect This Spring

If you fish northern pike on most inland waters of northwest and north-central Minnesota, you’ll have a larger bag limit but a protected slot to remember when fishing season opens May 12.

The new fishing regulations have three distinct zones — with different bag and slot limits for each zone — to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota.

In north-central Minnesota, which includes most bodies of water in the northwest, the northern pike limit is 10, but all fish from 22 inches to 26 inches must be released, while anglers can keep two pike longer than 26 inches.

The new regulations, which apply to inland waters of the state, don’t affect border waters or lakes and streams with special pike regulations already in place, such as Lake of the Woods and Upper Red.

While not designed to manage for trophy pike, the new regulations are meant to restore pike populations for better harvest opportunities across the state for sizes that make good table fare, up to around 28 inches or so.

Elsewhere in Minnesota, the new regulations are as follows:

  • Northeast: Two pike; anglers must release all from 30 to 40 inches, with only one over 40 inches allowed in possession.
  • South: Two fish; minimum size 24 inches.

“Anyone who wants to keep pike in Minnesota’s inland waters needs to take a close look at these regulations and be prepared to measure the pike they want to keep starting on the Saturday, May 12, fishing opener,” Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said in a news release.

“It’s almost go-time and we’re happy to be at this point after years of discussion on these issues with pike,” Stevens said. “This has been a long-running topic of conversation and is becoming reality in the 2018 fishing season.”

In a news release, the DNR said the move toward new regulations was a response to anglers’ concerns about the overabundance of hammer-handle pike in much of central and north-central Minnesota, the low numbers of pike present in southern waters and a desire to protect large pike in the northeastern part of the state.

Darkhouse spearing regulations for pike change slightly, and those regulations are listed in the spearing section of the regulations booklet.

For more information on the new zone regulations visit mndnr.gov/pike or contact a local area fisheries office. Contact information can be found in the fishing regulations booklet, available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.