Improving sunfish sizes

Image of a DNR fisheries staff holding a large sunfish

Large sunfish are scarce in many Minnesota lakes.

Local fisheries managers with the DNR are responding to angler desire for bigger sunfish by seeking out specific lakes that would be a good fit for reducing sunfish bag limits.

Currently, the statewide bag limit allows an individual angler to keep 20 sunfish.

Quality Bluegill Initiative

The DNR is seeking to identify individual lakes that have the right biological characteristics, and local angler support, to allow anglers to keep fewer sunfish.

Fisheries managers will be meeting with local angling groups to gauge support for reducing the sunfish bag limit on some lakes through the DNR’s process of proposing special regulations, which are specific to individual waters.

What’s happening

  • Fisheries managers aim to increase the number of special regulation lakes for sunfish from about 60 to between 200 and 250 lakes by the year 2023.
  • With public support and the right criteria, lakes could have reduced bag limits, down to either 10 or 5 fish.
  • Lakes with a 10 fish bag limit would be lakes where anglers want to maintain current populations of large sunfish.
  • Lakes with a 5 fish bag limit would reflect desire to re-establish quality sunfish populations after excessive exploitation.

What anglers say

Anglers are generally happy about the number of sunfish they catch, but dissatisfied with the size of sunfish.

In response, angling groups have for years been requesting the DNR consider making a change to the 20-fish bag limit for sunfish; however, angler survey data show a lack of support for a new statewide regulation.

Although a statewide reduction is not currently palatable, there is a general agreement that existing quality sunfish populations need protection and overharvested populations need assistance to recover to quality status.

Get involved

You can meet with local fisheries managers and share their concerns. Meeting times and locations will be announced as they are available. You also can find an office near you and share your thoughts with area fisheries managers.