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Gov. Dayton signs 54-inch muskie minimum bill

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Gov. Mark Dayton signed an omnibus game and fish bill that raises the minimum size for muskies, effectively making Minnesota a catch-and-release state for muskie fishing.

The measure, which goes into effect in 2015, makes Minnesota one of the most protective states for the fish. The law says that the minimum size for pure-strain muskellunge in inland waters is 54 inches long, in most cases. Anything smaller must be released.

Currently, the minimum size for a muskie is 48 inches long.

"It's such a rare fish – less than 5 percent of the population of muskies, which are rare to begin with – that they just can't take much harvest," Shawn Kellett, vice president of the Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies Inc., told the Pioneer Press.

Muskies Inc. and the Minnesota Pike and Muskie Alliance pushed for the change to protect Minnesota's trophy muskie fishing supply.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notes that trophy muskies are old muskies and the best way to create trophy muskie fishing is catch-and-release angling. However, the DNR is neutral on raising the minimum size limit for muskies, saying it's a social issue and the sustainability of muskies as a breeding population and trophy sport fish isn't an issue, the Pioneer Press reported back in March.

Groups opposed to higher size limits say they could have an adverse effect on area lakes and fishing.

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