Anglers who fish in McLeod, Meeker, Sibley, Nicollet, Brown, Redwood, Renville and western Wright county areas benefit from the management, habitat and oversight work of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Hutchinson area fisheries staff.
Area Fisheries Supervisor Scott Mackenthun and a staff of three full-time and one part-time employee manage 94 fishing lakes and 38 rivers and streams, including popular fishing destinations such as Minnie-Belle Lake, Belle Lake, Washington Lake and much of the middle Minnesota River. These lakes offer fantastic walleye and bass fishing, great panfish action and the Minnesota River remains a fantastic angling resource for a variety of fish species.
A Hutchinson area fisheries crew checks a trap net.
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Virtually all the work of the Hutchinson area fisheries staff is funded by money raised through fishing license sales. But reductions in buying power due to increasing costs for products, services and equipment have put this work and the recreational opportunities it creates at risk.
In response, the DNR is seeking a fishing license fee increase in the 2017 legislative session. The increase would raise the price of a resident annual fishing license from $22 to $25. Other fishing license types also would increase. The proposed increases should sustain existing fisheries operations until 2021.
The increase for an individual license – roughly the price of a scoop of minnows – may fill some existing vacancies but will not create any new positions. It will simply sustain existing programs and area office budgets, many of which already are reduced.
State law prohibits tax dollars, including funds generated by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment and Minnesota State Lottery, from funding area fisheries offices and the core work they do. Fisheries management that creates world-class fishing here in Minnesota is a user-funded, user-benefit system.
General hunting and fishing license fees were last increased in 2012 at an amount designed to keep game and fish operations solvent for about six years. Prior to that, it had been 10 years since the last general fee increase. Periodic fee increases – one about every five years since 1970 – are how Minnesota funds routine fisheries management. Many fishing organizations traditionally have supported periodic fee increases because high-quality fishing is recreation worth paying for.
In November 2016, the Game and Fish Fund Budget Oversight Committee – a citizen group that monitors the DNR's fisheries, wildlife and enforcement revenues and expenditures – recommended that the Legislature increase fishing and hunting license fees during the 2017 legislative session.
The DNR's fisheries section has a long tradition of belt-tightening. Statewide, staff size is down about 13 percent from roughly a decade ago. Moreover, the section is holding an additional 24 vacancies, most of which will not be filled even with fee increase. This means it is common for field offices to have fewer employees and leaner budgets than they once did.
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...to the lakes and streams within the Hutchinson Fisheries Management Area. The management area includes over 550 water bodies found in Brown, McLeod, Meeker, Nicollet, Redwood, Renville, and Sibley counties. Those managed for fishing include over 50 lakes, 8 kids fishing ponds, 5 trout streams, and 5 major rivers including the Minnesota River.
The remaining water bodies consist of small streams and ditches, wetlands, shallow waterfowl lakes, and natural ponds used for walleye production. In addition to water bodies, Hutchinson Area Fisheries manages parcels of land as Aquatic Management Areas (AMA) to protect fish habitat and promote angling access. Our clientele include sporting clubs, lake associations, and thousands of anglers that fish in the management area annually.
Surveys of fish populations and aquatic habitats are carried out periodically on each managed lake or stream. The information collected is used to monitor fish populations, evaluate management activities, and to develop new management plans. These reports contain information on fish populations such as abundance, sizes, age, and growth rates. Along with fish information, the reports include information on water chemistry, shoreline and watershed characteristics, aquatic vegetation and much more.
|Scott Mackenthun||Area supervisor||320-234-2550, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Gene Jeseritz||Assistant area supervisor||320-234-2550, Ext. email@example.com|
|Chris Foster||Fisheries specialist||320-234-2550, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Hanna Anema||Fisheries technician||320-234-2550, Ext. email@example.com|
|Tim Cross||Fisheries research scientist||320-234-2550, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Hannah Brown||Habitat technician||320-234-2550, Ext. email@example.com|
|Tony Sindt||Minnesota river specialist||320-234-2550, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|VACANT||Minnesota river specialist||320-234-2550, Ext. 237|
|Michael Wolf||Minnesota river specialist||320-234-2550, Ext. email@example.com|
|Sacia Matheson||Office administrative specialist||320-234-2550, Ext. firstname.lastname@example.org|