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Higher walleye limit possible on Lake Oahe

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outdoors Mitchell, 57301
The Daily Republic
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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

DEADWOOD -- Some of South Dakota's fishing rules might change for 2013, including a big shift on policy regarding Lake Oahe walleyes, under proposals made Friday by the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

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The commission is considering whether to let anglers take more walleyes from the Missouri River reservoir, which during the high water flows of 2011 lost much of its forage fish, such as smelt that are a primary food source for walleyes.

State wildlife biologists are convinced that many of Oahe's larger walleyes will die of starvation in the coming year, so they recommended liberalizing the limits.

Under the proposed regulations for 2013, anglers would be allowed to take eight walleyes per day from Oahe, including more than one walleye longer than 20 inches. Of the eight, four would need to be shorter than 15 inches.

Smaller walleyes can survive on tiny invertebrates in the river's eco-system, but bigger walleyes need a steady diet of smelt and other small fish to survive.

Oahe saw high reproduction of walleyes in previous years and the population is out of balance with the declining food base. That is why biologists want to allow more of the smaller walleyes to be taken.

A public hearing will be held on the afternoon of Nov. 1 during the commission's next meeting at Madison.

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