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Friday, April 20, 2012

Rules Regarding Spawn on Lake Superior

I've spent my spring Kamloops season buying spawn bags from gas stations on the North Shore of Lake Superior at astronomical prices. I recently e-mailed the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for clarification regarding the use of spawn on the Minnesota side of Lake Superior. He forwarded my e-mail to Matthew Miller from the Lake Superior Marine Unit. I asked all the tough questions and Matt answered them all. Thanks for the info Matt!

  1)      Is it the law that you buy commercially disinfected spawn due to VHS?  Due to the spread of different diseases across the country, and to attempt to prevent their spread in MN, the DNR has adopted rules that require that bait comes from certified disease-free locations or is treated by a licensed processor under DNR permit.  These types of bait then have to be labeled as such to be sold to anglers.  Page 12 of the 2012 Fishing Synopsis contains more information.  You as the angler just need to keep the label from when you purchased the bait.
2)      Is it ok to use spawn from a Kamloops Rainbow caught on Lake Superior for bait on Lake Superior?  No.  Current law prohibits the use of game fish, or any part of a game fish, for bait.  Another statute, specific to Lake Superior, specifically prohibits the taking of fish or parts of a fish for bait from the waters of Lake Superior or the St Louis River, regardless of where they are to be used.  Smelt and cisco have recently been exempted from this regulation.  There are proposals to modify these laws in relation to the use and collection of spawn, but this is where the regulations are at this time.
3)      What about buying it online from sources that claim to be disinfected?  Imported bait is fine, including from online sources, but it also has to come from a certified disease-free source or be treated by a permitted bait processor under DNR permit and labeled as such. 
4)      Can a person disinfect their own for personal use?  No, bait can only be disinfected by the holder of a DNR bait preservation permit.
5)      What does a person need to have on their person to prove their spawn is legal and disinfected?  Just retain the label containing treatment and certification information with you while in the field.  For more information on what information is required on the label, please refer to the statute language in 97C.342, sub 7 on the Revisor’s webpage (www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us). 
Please feel free to contact me at my home office (xxx)xxx-xxxx if you have any more questions or wish clarification on any of these issues.  The recent advance of invasive species and aquatic diseases has led to quite a few changes for all anglers and boaters, but hopefully I was able to help you here.
 Matthew S. Miller
Minnesota Conservation Officer
Lake Superior Marine Unit

I then called Mr. Jim Maragos from Centerpin Angling: http://centerpinangling.com, one of the largest spawn bait dealers on the web. Mr.Maragos assured me that all of the fresh spawn they sell is certified vhs free. It all comes from uncontaminated commercial sources. He informed me that he would have his IT team add the certified vhs free information to all sales receipts for Minnesota residents to carry on them while fishing.

Here is a link to the rules for using spawn on the tributaries of Lake Superior in Wisconsin.

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