Changing the South Dakota Muskellunge minimum from 40" to catch and release only.
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The following bullet points outlay various reasons for increasing the statewide minimum length limit on muskellunge and northern-muskellunge (tiger) to a statewide catch and release. This proposal will be finalized on March 1st in Pierre.
Muskellunge and tiger-muskellunge in South Dakota have outgrown their current regulation. Our state currently has fish in the lower 50 inch mark.
Muskie fishing is primarily catch and release. Our current muskellunge and northern-muskellunge (tiger) regulation allows for the harvest of fish in the 40 inch range. A 40 inch muskie is no longer considered a “trophy fish”. Other states have increased their minimums and are experiencing “trophy class fishing”.
Our state is behind others on muskie length minimums. Minnesota is currently at 54 inches. Wisconsin has lakes with minimum length restrictions of 45 inches, 50 inches, 54 inches, and some lakes which are strictly “catch and release”. Most Wisconsin waters to my knowledge currently fall under the 50 inch minimum. North Dakotas current minimum length limit is 48 inches.
This petition/proposal has the current support of anglers, bait shops, fishing guides, lodging, gas stations, restaurants, and other various establishments in areas near waters currently stocked with muskellunge.
Muskie is an expensive fish for the SDGFP to raise. Other states have shown that it costs roughly $12 to raise a stocked muskie. It takes 40 stocked fish, to get one muskie 40 inches making that fish worth roughly $480. It takes 500 stocked fish, to have one of them reach the 50 inch mark, making that fish worth roughly $6,000.
Our state has plenty of other opportunities for harvesting fish for meals, so keeping a muskie is now irrelevant.
Advancements in replica mounts/artificial amounts have made keeping trophy class muskies obsolete.
This has been discussed this various members of the SDGFP, including fisheries biologists, who support increasing the muskellunge minimum.
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