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How Does the Minnesota DNR Count Fish?

Find out how the Minnesota DNR keeps track of fish populations.

It’s no secret that the state of Minnesota is home to thousands of lakes. The management of these lakes as fisheries is the responsibility of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Part of that responsibility includes monitoring the fish populations.

One of Minnesota’s most popular places to fish is Mille Lacs Lake. The lake’s role in walleye fishing is quintessential. Mille Lacs, along with many others, are closely monitored, to ensure that future generations of anglers will be able to enjoy their fishing opportunities.

Many of the lakes have limits, which means the angler can only keep certain numbers of fish. Furthermore, slot limits are enforced, which act as a tool for improving fish growth rates.

Anglers can only keep a certain size of fish, if a specific slot limit is in place. Additionally, the DNR keeps track of the quantity of each species, that inhabit a particular lake.

It’s a monumental task to keep track of every fish, in every lake. Instead, the focus relies on general surveys. Information is obtained directly from anglers, along with electrofishing and netting. Deemed “biological sampling,” the studies reflect what is going on in each of the 4,200 lakes in the management plan.

With all the technology that’s available nowadays, the guesswork involved with seeing what swims beneath us is often taken away. It’s fascinating really. Despite the cameras and gear that are available, the DNR relies on some very basic equipment to accomplish its goals.


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How Does the Minnesota DNR Count Fish?