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Fishing possession limits could change next season

PIERRE — The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission is considering whether to increase possession limits for all species of fish caught from inland waters throughout South Dakota.

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Commissioners have formally proposed expanding the possession limits to three days of daily limits. The general rule currently is two days.

A public hearing is set for Nov. 7 at the commission’s meeting in Pierre.

The proposal did not come from the state Wildlife Division. It instead took shape through a discussion between commissioners and staff during consideration of another request at the commission’s meeting Thursday.

Division Director Tony Leif said Friday that the point of the proposal is to gain additional public input.

“We have no position on the proposed change for now,” Leif said. “We will have a recommendation for the commission on this issue when they meet to take action on this in November.”

The idea was sparked by a smaller request from tourism business people along the Missouri River. They want nonresident anglers to be able to keep more than a two-day limit of eight walleyes.

Their petition sought a statewide change in the walleye possession limit to a three-day total of 12. That would correspond to the three-day license often used by non-resident anglers in South Dakota.

Through Sept. 26 this year, non-resident anglers purchased 20,297 one-day licenses; 22,132 three-day licenses; 21,868 annual licenses; 8,412 family licenses; and 1,243 youth licenses, according to the state Wildlife Division

By comparison, South Dakota residents purchased approximately 56,800 combination licenses that allow fishing and small-game hunting; 65,060 annual fishing licenses; 12,467 senior licenses; and 6,214 oneday licenses.

One other change proposed for the Nov. 7 hearing would remove the special limits currently in effect for walleyes on Lake Oahe.

Currently anglers can take up to eight walleyes daily from the big Missouri River reservoir, with four at most allowed to be 15 inches or longer. Anglers can have a three-day total of 24.

Fisheries staff want to return Oahe to the standard four-walleye limit for 2014 because the abundance of walleyes smaller than 15 inches decreased in 2013.