With Canadian border closed, conservation fishing limits proposed for Lake Vermilion

Protecting Lake Vermilion for future generations has been a goal of the Vermilion Lake Association (VLA) for many years.
Whether it be to educate people about Aquatic Invasion Species or educating people to just be good stewards of the lake, the Association has worked tirelessly to do its part.
However, the new battle being taken on is to help reduce the stress Lake Vermilion has been experiencing due, in large part, to additional anglers fishing the lake while the Canadian border remains closed amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“We truly care about the long-term survival of the lake,” said former VLA President and Board Member Terry Grosshauser. “And that is the main reason we’re recommending Conservation Limits for Lake Vermilion.”
With the help of the VLA, plus involvement from the Lake Vermilion Guide’s League, the Lake Vermilion Resort & Tourism Association, and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Grosshauser is pleased to report a lot of traction has been gained in approving conservation limits.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re batting 1,000%— that includes getting the support from the DNR as well,” explained Grosshauser. “We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time.”
Some highlights of the recommended Conservation Limits, which would be done on a volunteer basis, including taking two walleyes (minimum 12” with a maximum of 18”); catch and release only for largemouth bass, five crappies (less than 13”), 20 perch (less than 12”) and one northern (less than 30”).
Essentially the Conservation Limits are 50% less than the current MNDNR Regulations Possession Limit. Please see the accompanying chart for a full breakdown of the recommended Conservation Limits.
“It’s important to note that we can only recommend these,” said Grosshauser. “These cannot be enforced, but we are just asking for the public’s help in protecting Lake Vermilion.”
Grosshauser, and others involved with proposing the Conservation Limits, reiterated the driving force behind this initiate has been the added stress Lake Vermilion has felt with the closure of the Canadian border.
In pre-COVID-19 days, thousands of anglers would flock to Canada for its bountiful fishing. However, those anglers are now staying in Minnesota and a lot of them have discovered Lake Vermilion.
“A lot of people’s future is at stake here,” said Buck Lescarbeau, who owns and operates Best Bet Guide Service. “If the lake gets additional stress, it can take a long time to rebound—just look at Mille Lacs.”
While resorters have experienced an uptick in business. That financial windfall, so to speak, has meant taking a deeper look in what can be done to reduce the stress on the lake.
“Anglers are also equipped with more tools to find the fish and catch their limits,” said Grosshauser. “We’re just asking that they help us out by considering our proposal. Not everyone will do it, but with the help of the Guide’s League and resorters, we know our efforts will make a difference.”
In an attempt to raise awareness of the initiative, laminated cards outlining the recommended Conservation Limits will be handed out to area resorts and fishing guides. A limited number of towels carrying the same message will also be available.
“It is our hope we relay the importance of our efforts to reduce the pressure on Lake Vermilion this summer and into the future,” said Grosshauser. “Again, it is also our hope that people are willing to do their part to help us.”
Grosshauser said he has been overly impressed by seeing all of the stakeholders working so closely together to get this project off the ground.
“I’ve always wanted to do something to help with a cause like this,” said Grosshauser in talking about why he got involved with this endeavor. “If the resorts and guides wouldn’t have agreed to this, I wouldn’t have done it. The combination of everyone working together is the only way this will work. It’s a great lake—we just have to ask ourselves, ‘How do we protect it?’”
For more information, please visit vermilionlakeassociation.org/conservation.