Big changes on tap for Cats Incredible catfish tournament

There’ve been rumblings about this for several weeks now, but the official word came out today when the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks announced the Cats Incredible Catfish Tournament will be a Minnesota-only event in 2012.

That means the stretch of river north of the Riverside Dam won’t be within tournament boundaries because the ramp to access that portion of the Red River is in North Dakota. Previously, the river downstream from Riverside Dam to the East Grand Forks Rod and Gun Club several miles north was within tournament boundaries.

With the change, all teams fishing the tournament will launch from the LaFave Park boat ramp in East Grand Forks. The tournament also will be reduced  to 125 two-person teams instead of 150 two-person teams.

The change isn’t going to be popular with many Cats Incredible anglers who prefer fishing north during the tournament. But because of new invasive species laws in both states that prohibit the transport of live fish across state lines – even if they’re from the same body of water – organizers didn’t have many options.

Here’s the news release announcing the change as it appears in this month’s issue of The Voice, the Chamber’s official newsletter:


Catfish Days Makes Changes

Responding to new invasive species laws in both states the CATS Incredible fishing yournament will be an all Minnesota tournament with all teams launching from LaFave Park in East Grand Forks, MN in 2012. The field will also be reduced to from 150 teams to 125 teams. In the past few years 50 teams launched from the ND ramp near The ND Mill in Grand Forks and 100 teams launched from LaFave Park in East Grand Forks. Regulations in both states now prohibit fish transportation across state lines despite being released into the same body of water.

The committee respects and takes the invasive species threat very seriously and decided to make the changes so the tournament can be a role model. The new approach will allow the committee to put all of its focus on the LaFave Landing site, streamline the logistics of the tournament and continue the long tradition of offering the best Catfish tournament anywhere.

The committee also welcomes back two former chairmen of the tournament as 2012 cochairs – Tom Stennes and Tom McDonald. Both have chaired the tournament individually multiple times and everyone involved in the tournament is excited about the 2012 event. The committee is also excited to have Cabalas back for its 10th year as tournament sponsor.


Feds to remove gray wolves from Endangered Species List

Photo: National Park Service

A development that can’t happen fast enough for many in northwest Minnesota occurred this morning, when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced plans to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in the Great Lakes Region.

The Great Lakes Region covers Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and portions of adjoining states, including North Dakota.

Salazar said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a rule in the Federal Register to delist wolves in the Great Lakes Region. The rule becomes effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

That means management of wolves will return to the states next month. The population in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin now exceeds 4,000 animals and Minnesota’s population alone is estimated at 2,921 wolves. That’s more than twice the 1,400 benchmark called for under federal recovery goals.

Each state has developed a plan to manage wolves after federal protection is removed.

“Gray wolves are thriving in the Great Lakes region, and their successful recovery is a testament to the hard work of the Service and our state and local partners,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We are confident state and tribal wildlife managers in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will effectively manage healthy wolf populations now that federal protection is no longer needed.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has scheduled a conference call for 11 a.m. today to discuss specifics of the wolf delisting and how the state will manage wolves. I’ll provide updates here as they become available.