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DNR Encouraging Everyone To Use Extra Caution With This Weekend's Walleye Opener On The Iowa Great Lakes

Fri 5-1-2020

(Spirit Lake)-- This weekend will see an influx of anglers coming into the area for the official start of walleye season on the Iowa Great Lakes. Steve Reighard, an enforcement officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says even though the crowds will likely be down due to the cancellation of Walleye Weekend, you'll still have to allow extra time at the boat ramps, and probably even more so this year. He says you'll have to be aware of social distancing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19...Walleye Opener01 

"We don't want a lot of crowding at the boat ramps, a lot of people on the docks, you know, getting boats in and out. We want to keep the sickness down as much as we can and social distancing is one of the best ways. Take hand sanitizer with you if you're touching the dock, that type of thing."

Reighard also reminds those fishing from shore will need to keep a distance of atleast six feet between them and that the number of people on large boats needs to be less than 10. Otherwise, he says all of the accesses and boat ramps, including Marble Beach which had been closed the last couple of years for construction, are open...Walleye Opener02 

"We've got most of the buoys out for the navigation buoys, of course all of the hazard buoys are out, all of the reef buoys are out, most of the 300 foot buoys are out. It's still going to be a busy weekend, probably not as busy as normal but this whole spring has been extremely busy with the nice weather. When you're out, I know there's a lot of people out not only fishing, but there's a lot pleasure boaters out. I see a lot of boaters starting to raft up in Miller's Bay again. There again we've got to keep them to groups of under 10 at a time and follow the Governor's guidelines."

And Reighard reminds everyone of rules pertaining to walleye fishing on the Iowa Great Lakes...Walleye Opener03 

"We want everybody to remember of course there's a limit of three on the Iowa Great Lakes chain with a protected slot. Everything 17 to 22 has to be immediately released back to the water. The extended contest will start Monday for the tagged fish. The tagged fish are already out there in the water. Make sure you measure your fish good. We want everybody to have a good, safe weekend. We'll be out. I've got other officers coming in for the weekend, so we will be out. If you've got questions and stuff we'll talk to you, probably mostly from a distance, but we will be talking to people and checking people while we're around the lakes."

Reighard says additional DNR enforcement officers will be on duty around the Iowa Great Lakes this weekend doing checks.

He also reminds everyone state campgrounds remain closed.