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Small Lakes Get Little Pressure

July 13, 2008

By Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

Jul. 13–By Brad Dokken

Herald Staff Writer

Fishing opportunities on smaller lakes within the Red Lake Indian Reservation date back to the 1930s, but the program really took off in 1987 when the band launched the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources.

“We started cooperatively with the Fish and Wildlife Service and looking at some of these lakes and coming up with management recommendations,” said Pat Brown, tribal fisheries biologist. “That’s kind of grown over the last 20 years.”

Lower Red Lake and the 60,000 acres of Upper Red Lake within reservation boundaries, along with their tributaries, aren’t open to nonband members.

According to Brown, the lakes open to visitors vary from 80 acres to about 200 acres and can’t take a lot of fishing pressure. They don’t get much pressure, either, and the result is a quality fishing experience, Brown said.

Brown says he tries to survey the small lakes every four to six years, adjusting his stocking recommendations based on what he finds. Species such as lake trout, rainbow trout, brook trout and walleyes rely on stocking, he said. Bass, pike and panfish, by comparison, tend to do well on their own.

“The panfish on some of these lakes are unbelievable,” Brown said.

Here’s how nonband members can fish the reservation lakes:

n According to Brown, visitors must secure the services of a registered tribal guide before buying a license. The Red Lake Tribal Headquarters office has a list of registered guides, Brown says, and fees vary depending on the guide.

“It’s not a huge fee,” Brown said.

n Once visitors have lined up a guide, they can purchase a reservation fishing permit at the Red Lake Department of Public Safety, Brown said. A season license that’s good from the May fishing opener through Oct. 31 costs $50. Weekly permits cost $25, and a one-day license costs $10.

n Fishing season opens the second Saturday in May for all species except largemouth bass, which opens the last Saturday in May. Seasons close Oct. 31.

n Info: Tribal headquarters, (218) 679-3341; public safety department, (218) 679-3313.

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