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WILTZ: More walleyes in the possession limit? No way

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outdoors Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
WILTZ: More walleyes in the possession limit? No way
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301


The Daily Republic 

Though I’m not ready to put my boat and tackle away for the year, I’ve already enjoyed one of the best years of my life on our Missouri River reservoir system. Never before have I fished all four of our reservoir lakes in a single season. Moving from south to north, they include Lewis & Clark, Francis Case, Lake Sharpe and Lake Oahe.


Because of my dependence on these lakes, I will fight for them if need be. I was especially interested in the article “Fishing possession limits could change next season” in the Oct. 5 edition of The Daily Republic. Bob Mercer penned the story.

In essence, our South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission will consider a possession limit change at the coming November meeting. While all species of fish in all inland waters are included in the change, this is all about walleyes. Currently, we can possess two daily limits of fish. The proposed change would allow three possession limits of fish.

This means that with a daily possession limit of four walleyes, an individual angler could go home with 12 fish instead of eight. Tony Leif, division director for the GF&P, says the department has taken no position on the change for now. One other change proposal for the Nov. 7 meeting would change Oahe’s eight walleye daily limit back to four. This particular proposal came from our GF&P fisheries staff. I support this proposal.

Where did the possession limit change idea come from? It came from a petition generated by tourism-related business people along the Missouri River corridor. They want nonresident anglers to be able to keep more than the eight walleye possession limit. This will supposedly coincide with the popular three-day nonresident fishing license.

Today’s column is one of the most important I have ever written. I don’t like changes that are fueled my money. However, this is not the reason for my opposition to the change. All of our Missouri River reservoirs are over-fished by walleye anglers. Taking more walleye out of our reservoirs, for any reason, is not in the best interests of our fisheries. If nonresident anglers want to take home more fish, they should further utilize our smallmouth bass/catfish fishery.

It’s nothing more than my gut feeling, but I don’t believe that our GF&P is for the increase. I do believe that it is under pressure from higher places. If your feelings are similar to mine, let our GF&P people know. This will make it easier for them to say “No.” Call them at 605-773-3387 and talk to individual commissioners. Their names are printed on Page 4 of our 2013 Fishing Handbook. You can also e-mail our commissioners and the GF&P by going to

Shakespeare told us about “a rose by any other name.” Isn’t a 12 walleye possession limit more or less the same as a six walleye daily limit? I think so. Three times four equals two times six.

This year’s Oct. 2 issue of The Burke Gazette, Jack Broome made the following observation in his weekly column. He said that I was right on when I talked about too many West River ponds being over-populated with stunted fish. He went on to say that was why so many avid ice fishermen from the area opposed the reduction of the pan fish limit from 25 to 15 fish. What I didn’t know until Jack pointed it out was this limit was changed to correct a problem in our northeast glacier lakes.

Fixing one problem by creating 50 additional problems is not a solution. There was a time when our West River lakes, dams and ponds had higher possession limits than those of the more heavily fished East River bodies of water. It showed good common sense.

I realize that having the same limits statewide makes it less complicated for the angler. However, quality fisheries make a few exceptions worth the effort. Our annual S.D. Fishing Handbook already lists exceptions for particular lakes. A few more exceptions aren’t going to cost us any more printing dollars.

With regard to lakes that need further management, local volunteer committees could easily keep a GF&P biologist up to date with recommendations.

When I crossed the dam at Pickstown a few weeks ago to hunt the grouse opener, it was still dark. Two boat-hauling pickups entered the highway as I passed. Apparently they had been fishing. It made me wonder what they had been after, and how well they did. I envied their aggressiveness.

About 35 years ago, I was launching my boat below the Randall Dam about a half hour before sunrise. A Fairfax friend and his wife were loading their boat after some late night fishing. I asked them how they had done, and he showed me a half dozen large walleye. Would they share how they caught them with me?

He said they caught them on surface lures. The fish were feeding in shallow water currents, and they could hear the fish splashing around as they fed. He also said there was no need to get out there before midnight. Do you believe them, or were they pulling my leg?

See you next week.