Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 5, 2014

DNR proposes major changes to fishing rules


Goshen News

---- — Do you think a bag limit on Indiana bluegill would produce better fishing in the future?

Would a 16-inch size limit on St. Joe walleyes or a 44-inch size limit on some muskie lakes provide bigger fish in the coming years?

Those are just a few of the trial balloons that the Indiana DNR sent up this week within a package of proposals it has put before the public as it begins assessing future changes to sportsmen laws.

Or, if you have your own ideas of what would improve fishing, hunting and trapping in Indiana, the DNR would like to hear those as well.

You can contribute your ideas and provide input on some three dozen proposals the DNR has identified for consideration between now until Feb. 28. You’ll find the complete listing as well as a place to offer your thoughts online at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild. Click on the “Got Input” box in the middle of the page to find the proposals and a comment form.

After Feb. 28, DNR staffers will evaluate all comments and determine which proposals to forward to the Natural Resources Commission for consideration.

Some of the DNR fishing proposals pertinent to this area include: increasing the walleye size limit to 16 inches on most northern waters; placing a 25-fish bag limit on sunfish (includes bluegill, redear, warmouth, pumpkinseed and others); and increasing the muskie size limit from 36 inches to 44 inches on Lake Webster, Backwater Lake and Kiser Lake in Kosciusko County.

DNR hunting recommendations include making the northern Indiana fall turkey season the same length as southern counties; allow 28-gauge shotguns to be used for deer during the firearms season; change the quail bag limit on northern DNR properties to two; and restrict pheasant hunting to cocks-only on put-and-take areas at Pigeon River, Willow Slough and Winamac fish and wildlife areas, and suspend grouse hunting statewide.

In addition, there’s an offer to establish a river otter trapping season in designated counties and a plan that would allow resident landowners to designate other people to take nuisance fur bearers outside of the season without a permit.

Again, these are only recommendations from DNR staffers to determine how receptive the public would be to those and other changes being proposed.

“This is an opportunity for people to let us know what changes they would like us to consider,” said Gregg McCollam, assistant director of the Division of Fish & Wildlife, in a press release. “This process also allows us to get much-needed feedback on issues that the division is interested in moving forward.”

Next Sunday, we will analyze those some of those proposals that impact Michiana the most and explain the biologists’ thoughts as to why they are recommended.

Ice derby set

Although details aren’t finalized, the Bremen Conservation Club has announced it will hold its annual ice fishing derby Jan. 25 at Lake of the Woods.

Specific information will be provided by the club when it becomes available.

Late goose season

The Indiana DNR will offer another late season for hunting Canada geese.

The season runs Feb. 1-15 in 30 counties: Steuben, LaGrange, Elkhart, St. Joseph, La Porte, Starke, Marshall, Kosciusko, Noble, DeKalb, Allen, Whitley, Huntington, Wells, Adams, Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Hendricks, Marion, Hancock, Morgan, Johnson, Shelby, Vermillion, Parke, Vigo, Clay, Sullivan and Greene.

The late season helps control the population of the breeding “giant” subspecies of Canada geese around urban areas, a common issue in Indiana and surrounding states. Indiana has offered hunters a late Canada goose season in select counties since 2008.

A valid hunting license, Indiana waterfowl stamp, signed federal duck stamp and a HIP (Harvest Information Program) number are required to hunt during this season.

No special permit is needed for the late Canada goose season, and birds no longer need to be checked.

Indiana hunters harvested 8,100 Canada geese during the 2013 late season, the same number as in 2012, according to estimates from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Weeknight seminars

Jonathon VanDam will share bass fishing tips Wednesday evening while Shaun Olinger will provide ice fishing tactics Thursday during free seminars at D&R Sports Center in Kalamazoo.

VanDam will tell how to find and catch schools of bigger offshore bass on Michiana lakes. Olinger will provide ice anglers suggestions on how to catch more and larger panfish on the ice.

Both seminars will run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Got tournaments?

I’m posting fishing tournament schedules on my website, www.michianaoutdoorsnews.com and encourage any groups with individual events or circuits that are open to the public to get me their schedules. Send date, location, entry fee, phone/website/email contact and logo, if available.

The website has a new events calendar that will make it easier for anglers to locate events throughout this coming season.

Predator Challenge

D&R Sports Center in Kalamazoo will host the Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge Jan. 17-19.

Teams will consist of 2-3 hunters with a $90 registration fee per team. Entry fee includes a meal from Barretts Smokehouse and a T-shirt for early online registration. The contest will begin Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. with mandatory check-in at 5 p.m. at D&R Sports Center. The contest will end Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m.

The winners will be determined by number of animals taken. In the event of a tie, the total combined weight of the animals by each team will determine the winner. For more information and rules, visit www.michiganpredatorchallenge.com.

Contact Goshen News outdoor writer Louie Stout at stoutoutdoors@comcast.net.