Why is Bluegill getting smaller? A scientific path for better fishing
The moonfish family of freshwater fish (bluegill and redear to name a few species) may be responsible for “hooking” more people to fishing than any other fish. They are plentiful, widely distributed, willful biters, and exciting fighters while making excellent dinner dishes to boot. Wired2fish interviewed Dave Weitzel, MNR’s Minnesota (MN) Fisheries Biologist, for a detailed look at the unique biology of Pumpkinseed Fish and how a reduced harvest of larger fish can dramatically improve population size structure. sunfish.
Panfish anglers in Minnesota and elsewhere have shared their concerns about sunfish size reduction. From the use of powerful fish finding technologies to the rapid dissemination of information on social media, the pressure on fishing has never been greater and anglers more efficient. . MN DNR’s Quality Sunfish initiative aims to improve the size structure of sunfish populations on certain lakes capable of producing large sunfish by reducing daily limits from the 20-fish limit statewide to reduced bag limits of 10 or 5 fish (depending on the body water).
Weitzel goes into fascinating detail about the pumpkinseed life cycle and how angling, especially for large male sunfish, can have a significant impact on size quality. While biologists have conclusive data on how to improve sunfish size structure, the MN DNR ultimately manages the state’s fisheries to meet the expectations of anglers. So far, the public has strongly supported lowering the sunfish limits in most of the proposed waters, with follow-up studies showing improvements in size.
The DNR wants to know your thoughts. Please weigh in on the issue using this online survey or contact a regional fisheries office. The Sunfish Quality Initiative has also attracted interest from other states looking to improve the size structure of the Sunfish, so please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.