Are muskies taking over our lakes? 2 lawmakers think so

Proposed bills would curb the expansion of muskies in Minnesota lakes.
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What's happening?

Two bills – one in the Senate and a companion in the House – have been proposed in the Minnesota Legislature that would curb the expansion of the muskie in state lakes.

They have been put forward by Otter Tail County's Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and Rep. Bud Nornes.

What would it do?

According to the bill, it would prohibit the DNR from adding new muskellunge waters in Minnesota lakes for the next four years – with any financial savings from this used to restock walleye.

It would give counties the final word on what fish are stocked in their lakes, as well as reducing fishing catch limits on muskies in waters that aren't traditional muskie lakes from 54 inches down to just 20 inches.

It also calls for a five-year moratorium on stocking more muskies in any of Otter Tail County's 1,001 lakes.


– Watch this giant muskie dine on a Northern Pike.

Why are they doing this?

The controversy over the muskie has been ongoing for years now, with Otter Tail County one of the most prominent locations for the conflict.

The Star Tribune reports that the DNR recognizes muskie fishing is the fastest-growing type of angling in the state, but notes that it has dialed back on a number of its muskie expansion plans – including some in Otter Tail County – following opposition from certain counties.

The newspaper notes that of the 90 Minnesota lakes stocked with muskies, 47 are not "natural" muskie lakes. A further 50 contain muskies but aren't actively managed.

Opponents to muskie expansion think that the fish are being allowed to proliferate to the detriment of other sport fish, including sunnies, crappies and the walleye.

But supporters of the muskie say research has already shown its introduction doesn't adversely impact other fish species and curbing its expansion would ruin what is becoming a huge draw for the state.

There's also the problem that the muskie isn't exactly a popular addition to a lake among recreational users, with Island Lake in northern Minnesota the scene of two possible muskie attacks on humans last summer.

The Pioneer Press's outdoors writer Dave Orrick in 2016 looked at some of the myths and realities regarding the debate, arguing that muskies and walleye can co-exist under the right conditions, and that the muskie doesn't pose nearly as big a threat to other fish as the far more numerous Northern Pike.

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