Fish Feud Divides Locals in Otter Tail County
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It’s a fish feud in Minnesota.
Some locals in Otter Tail County say they’re worried one species of fish is wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem.
Anglers who support the fish say that’s not the case.
Caught in the middle, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Dave Majkrzak with the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association says a predator lurking in these waters could destroy the lake as we know it.
Muskies are a controversial topic in Otter Tail county. Some homeowners want the DNR stop stocking them in local lakes all together.
But a devoted group of anglers, along with the DNR itself, are looking to expand muskie fishing in the county.
“They’ve given it pretty much domain over the lake,” says Majkrzak.
The fish is bringing more and more anglers to Minnesota, according to Pelican Lake fishing guide Jerry Sondag.
“My client base comes from mostly 2000 miles away,” Sondag adds.
But the worry is that more muskies could wipe out other fish species in local lakes.
“That many big fish in the water has to have an effect on the other fish,” Majkrzak says.
Muskies are simply the largest fish here in Pelican Lakes. They can reach more than 60 inches in length. Opponents to stocking say that they’re worried that muskies will overpower other fish species and reduce their population numbers.
The Minnesota DNR wants to hear both sides of the argument. A meeting tonight in Fergus Falls with state officials gave everyone a chance to chime in.
“So we can get your opinion, whether it’s good bad or indifferent on muskellunge management,” says Don Pereira, Minnesota State Fisheries Chief.
The DNR wants to add muskies to one more lake in Otter Tail County. Officials are studying which lake would be the best candidate. But the homeowner’s group wants all muskie stocking stopped.
“That they have a moratorium on muskie stocking until they can prove their science and their technology,” says Majkrzak.
Tonight’s meeting was strictly a listening session. No policy was changed. Officials say that everyone in Minnesota is an equal owner of these waters, and they should all have a say before anything drastic happens to them.
The DNR plan is part of a statewide mandate to create five more muskie fisheries in Minnesota by 2020 to match the newfound popularity of the species.
The public is invited to offer input through a survey available at the Minnesota DNR website, available here.