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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Creel survey underway on Vermilion

It’s a critical tool for fisheries managers, but it takes months and doesn’t come cheap

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 5/26/21

LAKE VERMILION— Anglers here may have the chance to take part in a creel survey this summer, conducted by the Department of Natural Resources. It’s an important part of fisheries …

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Creel survey underway on Vermilion

It’s a critical tool for fisheries managers, but it takes months and doesn’t come cheap

Posted

LAKE VERMILION— Anglers here may have the chance to take part in a creel survey this summer, conducted by the Department of Natural Resources. It’s an important part of fisheries management and it will provide the DNR with its first reliable look at fishing pressure on the big lake since the last survey, conducted in 2015.
With concerns about increased fishing pressure on the lake, this year’s creel survey should provide critical information that isn’t available in any other way. Two creel “clerks” will be out on the lake this summer, contacting anglers as they’re out on the water. The survey started on the May 15 opener and will continue through Sept. 30, five days a week, including all weekends and holidays. Each clerk averages about 30 interviews a day, so between the two of them they are expected to conduct over 4,000 angler interviews during the survey. The interviews will be conducted randomly to ensure a scientifically valid result.
During the interviews, the creel clerks will ask anglers a few questions about their fishing trip for that day and record information on the fish species caught. Creel clerks may ask to record measurements of fish that anglers keep.
DNR pilots will also be conducting 60 flights this summer, during which they will tally the number of fishing boats on the lake.
Given the extensive effort that goes into a creel survey, they’re expensive to conduct. “They’re cost-prohibitive so we can’t do them every year,” said DNR large lake specialist Matt Hennen, who’s based in Tower. In fact, because of the expense, the DNR only conducts such extensive surveys on the state’s largest and most popular fishing lakes. The DNR has also conducted such surveys on both Birch and Burntside lakes in recent years.
“Creel surveys are a huge source of data on fishing pressure,” noted Hennen. With local concern about the pressure on the lake, Hennen said this year’s creel survey will provide valuable science which can help to evaluate those concerns. “We’ll see the number of hours that people spend fishing and get an estimated harvest,” he said.
And the survey will assess the harvest of all the popular game fish on the lake, not just walleye.
This information, when combined with scientific data collected during standard fisheries population assessments, is used to make informed fisheries management decisions for the lake.
Angler participation is an essential part of this study, so the DNR is asking anglers to be patient with the creel clerks and provide information that is as accurate as possible. Since 1984, the DNR has conducted 12 creel surveys on Lake Vermilion.
For additional information or questions contact Matt Hennen at the DNR Tower area fisheries office: 218-300-7810 or matthew.hennen@state.mn.us.

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