PIERRE, S.D. -- Game, Fish and Parks officials are reminding anglers that walleye minimum size limits on Lakes Sharpe, Francis Case and the Missouri River below Fort Randall Dam downstream to the South Dakota/Nebraska border end June 30, and will not become effective again until Sept. 1.
Missouri River Fisheries Program Administrator Jim Riis said the reason the size limits are removed during July and August on lakes Sharpe and Francis Case is to allow some harvest of smaller walleye.
"Removing the minimum length limit during July and August allows anglers to harvest a few walleye on each fishing trip, during a time when fishing pressure and walleye catches are generally not high enough to substantially reduce the abundance of walleye in a lake," Riis said. "Walleye longer than the minimum length limit are most common in angler catches during the spring and fall, and most anglers have the potential to harvest a few fish on each fishing trip during these periods of the year."
While maintaining the quality of a fishery is important, Riis said it is also important that people have an opportunity to harvest fish during a day of fishing. "It is ok to keep fish to eat, especially during a time of year when water temperatures are warmer and fish are deeper," he said. "By removing the minimum length limit during July and August, anglers can keep a deep-hooked, small walleye that might not otherwise survive." He added that if an angler reaches their walleye limit, they should then try fishing for other fun sport fish, such as smallmouth bass and channel catfish.
People often ask why the minimum length limit is not also removed for June.
"Fishing pressure and walleye catch and harvest usually peak during late-May and June on Lakes Sharpe and Francis Case," Riis said. "If the minimum length limit were not in place during these months, anglers would have the ability to quickly harvest more walleye than these lakes could sustain on an annual basis. The minimum length limit acts as a safeguard on the walleye population during a time of the year when harvest can be excessive."
Riis also reminds anglers that the regulation of one walleye 18 inches or longer daily is still in effect on Lakes Sharpe, Francis Case and the Missouri River below Fort Randall Dam downstream to the South Dakota/Nebraska border during July and August (year-round). The daily walleye limit on Sharpe and Francis Case is three with a possession limit of eight.
Anglers targeting Lake Oahe will not find any size-limit changes for July and August, because every fish from their six-fish limit can be shorter than 15 inches during all months of the year. However, an angler may only have four fish that are 15 inches or longer, and of those four, no more than one may be 20 inches or longer. The six-walleye daily limit is only applicable to Lake Oahe. The possession limit on Lake Oahe is 18, taken in accordance with the daily limit.