Why can't anglers use two lines in Minnesota?
At Stevens, program consultant for the MN DNR section of fisheries, working primarily with lake surveys, regulations and fishing tournaments, said:
Minnesota’s bag limits, size restrictions, and seasons are based on that requirement. We manage our fish populations, and all states do this, with a suite of three tools: We regulate seasons, possession limits (bag limits) and the methods, like number of lines and number of hooks.
When one of the main three regulatory tools is liberalized, the others must compensate or we risk over-harvest and decline in quality. If you don't do that, too much angling pressure can lead to declines in fish quality. For example, we allow one line and Wisconsin allows two, three in the winter. But, they have some other compensating regulations: They don't allow motor trolling in many areas and they don't allow winter pike spearing, like we do. So, all states have some way of managing their harvest.
Also, allowing increased harvest would particularly affect management of our large walleye lakes and treaty lakes, where harvest is closely monitored and regulated. Similarly, hooking mortality on our large fish like muskellunge and northern pike and lake trout would likely increase.
The other thing that we deal with is our population: Minnesota has 5.5 million people about 1.5 million people fishing. That's about four or fives times larger than South Dakota. So, we have a large population of anglers and to maintain that quality, we have we regulate our fisheries with one line in the summer, two in the winter.
By and large, anglers accept and support limiting people to one line in open water. This was apparent at the 2011 DNR Fisheries Roundtable, where representatives from several angling groups voiced their opposition to “two line” legislation during a moderated evening discussion. There were also indications of this in 2009, when the Minnesota House of Representatives conducted a survey at the Minnesota State Fair. Results showed 51 percent opposed two rods, 32 percent favored two rods, and 17 percent were undecided. While many states do allow two lines, these states tend to have compensating regulations (e.g., lower bag limits, trolling restrictions, etc.) to regulate harvest. Or, they do not have Minnesota’s quality of fishing.
Thanks for asking!