LAKE VERMILION— The DNR has released a new five-year management plan for Lake Vermilion that sets many more numeric goals and objectives than previous plans. Among the goals, which will guide DNR …
LAKE VERMILION— The DNR has released a new five-year management plan for Lake Vermilion that sets many more numeric goals and objectives than previous plans. Among the goals, which will guide DNR management on the lake through 2022, is to maintain a lakewide average walleye gill net catch of 14 fish-per-net in order to sustain the lake’s reputation as a robust walleye fishery. That would include a 16 fish-per-net average in the lake’s eastern basin, and 10 per-net on the west end, according to the report (see full report at www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakevermilion/index.html).
The DNR has also set a walleye catch rate goal of 0.38 fish per hour spent fishing.
The plan maintains the current target summer season, boat angling walleye harvest at 65,000 pounds annually, which is actually well above the estimated harvest in recent years. The target is “intentionally flexible,” according to the DNR, “to allow for overages in harvest which have occurred in the past without dramatic effects to the population.” Fisheries managers believe that maintaining harvest levels above 65,000 pounds for an extended period is likely not sustainable.
Creel surveys from 2014 and 2015 indicated that the annual summer boat angling harvest was less than 50,000, which is one reason that the DNR opted to narrow the protected slot to 20-26 inches in 2017.
The plan covers other fish species, but not with the detail devoted to the lake’s walleye fishery. It also describes the types and frequencies of management activities that the DNR will undertake to monitor and maintain the lake’s fish populations. Among those activities is a likely increase in musky stocking in the lake, from the current 4,000 fingerlings every two years, to 3,000 annually, with the possibility of up to 2,000 more in surplus years. The increase could be even more significant than the numbers indicate, given Vermilion’s recent state designation as a “premier” musky lake, which means that the new goal is more likely to be met on an annual basis. Due to persistent shortages of available fingerlings, the DNR has often failed to meet stocking goals for musky on Vermilion in recent years.
That change was one that was made as a result of public input encouraging more musky stocking. Public input also led to slight changes in a planned evaluation of the current northern pike special regulation and adjustments to fish survey methods including the timing of fish sampling.
The plan retains the walleye regulation implemented in May 2017 and is more specific than the previous plan about management goals, objectives and activities for individual fish species.
“Lake Vermilion is well loved by anglers, visitors and area residents,” said Edie Evarts, Tower area fisheries supervisor. “Thank you to everyone who has contributed their time and input to the management plan for this popular, multi-species fishery.”
The plan was developed in partnership with the Lake Vermilion Fisheries Input Group comprised of a diverse group of people interested in Lake Vermilion fish management representing local, statewide and tribal perspectives. The group worked with the DNR from early stages of plan development to reviewing its final version.