Game, fish, wildlife issues up for debateWORTHINGTON — There is never a dull moment on the game, fish and wildlife front. There are many bills making their way through the legislature as we speak. Many get very little attention and others will be debated — as the old saying goes — like they’re “beating a dead horse.”
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — There is never a dull moment on the game, fish and wildlife front. There are many bills making their way through the legislature as we speak. Many get very little attention and others will be debated — as the old saying goes — like they’re “beating a dead horse.”
One of the proposed bills getting a lot of attention is the two line fishing bill. You would have a very difficult time finding an issue sportsmen are more excited about. In Minnesota you can use two lines when fishing through the ice and one line when angling in open water.
Minnesota anglers have been waiting a long time for the opportunity to fish with two lines in open water. This desire for multiple lines has roots in the fact that you can fish with two lines in our bordering states of Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota. Anglers are a mobile bunch and many fish in more than one state on a regular basis. Many other states in addition to those mentioned above allow two lines for open water angling.
Anybody who fishes much at all will agree that the ability to fish multiple lines at the same time makes it much easier to determine what the fish will bite on that particular day. If you are trolling, you can use two different baits of different colors and sizes and double the number of lures that can be presented in the same number of angler hours. The same is true if you are anchored in a boat or fishing from shore. The ability to float a bobber with live bait, while at the same time casting a jig, gets the angler the best of both worlds and will most likely result in more fish in the pail.
It only makes sense that more lines means more fish caught and more harvest. Now, this is not necessarily true on any one day, but over the length of a fishing season more fish will be harvested as a result of more lines in the water.
If I am fishing solo in my boat and run across a boat with two anglers, I am very satisfied in my angling prowess if I have 50 percent as many fish as they do. Two lines against my one means they should catch twice as many as me. In actuality, the results will likely be that they have more than twice as many as I because they can switch presentations more often and always have a lure in the water.
When a solo angler with one line switches baits he or she has no baits fishing at all during the switch. It is this fact that keeps anglers from experimenting more. Every switch means down time and results in less time with the bait in the water.
So here is where the debate begins. Two line proponents will tell you that if other states can do it then we should be able to do it to. They will say the fisheries of the states that allow two line fishing still have great fishing and that over-harvest is not an issue.
Then there is the possible benefit of additional tourism if more anglers are lured to fish in our state because we now allow them to fish with the same number of lines that neighboring states do. The loudest reason two line proponents will use is that the daily limit is in place to protect our resources and as long as they are enforced, over-harvest cannot take place.
These seem like sound rationale and I think the vast majority of the state’s anglers would agree. The two line angling debate has been around for years and is really heating up this term.
So, it begs the question, “Why not let anglers fish with two lines?” So what if harvest increases? It’s just more fun when you catch more fish. It is a universal fact that catching more fish is a lot more fun, period. From informal research, it is my understanding the DNR thinks harvest rates will increase but do not know how much.
I read somewhere that the average run-of-the-mill walleye angler in Minnesota catches .5 walleyes per angling hour. If you do the math you can calculate that one fisherman that fishes for four hours will catch two walleyes. This is nowhere near the six walleye daily limit. Will that angler catch more fish with more lines?
I can’t help but conclude that more lines mean more harvest. The six fish limit helps protect the fishery when the bite is really hot but has little effect when the bite is slow.
If more lines can make a slow bite a more successful day, then it means anglers will be bumping up against the stop marker of the six fish limit more often. If six fish are the spot gap with one line, would the limit need to be lowered to three fish with two lines?
It really depends on who you ask. The researchers in general will say his change in outcome is almost automatic. More lines mean more harvest and a lower limit must be considered. The field guys on the other hand see less danger with two lines. If the fish are not biting, it wouldn’t matter if you used 20 lines. You will still not catch any fish. I have pondered this issue and I can’t really say what would happen.
I think the two line issue will pass this session. It might result in a higher license fee than a one line license and it might have a smaller limit. These issues will be decided far from Worthington.
In the past, I have been on the one line side of the fence. Today, I really have no strong position either way. I think additional revenue could be generated and the game and fish fund can use all the license dollars it can get.
When you think about whether you would like to fish with one line or two, just remember there is a bill in the House, HB 635, that Rep. Hackbarth has introduced that will reduce fish stocking by 20 percent in each of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. At that point, the state would sell off all of its hatchery property and equipment and be completely out of the fish stocking business. If this passes, we can fish our lakes empty even faster with two lines.
There is never a dull moment on the game, fish and wildlife front. I will keep you posted.
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.