Doug Smith
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Pelican Lake in Wright County – a fishing hotspot for several years but one destined to change – has been open to liberalized fishing for the next nine days.

That means anglers can keep as many fish as they want for personal use.

The Department of Natural Resources announced the change on Friday, and said liberalized bag limits will continue until sunset March 9. The reason: Low oxygen levels likely will result in winterkill of fish in the lake, so officials figure anglers might as well utilize them.

The DNR says the early onset and bitter cold of winter 2013-14 have combined to make some shallow lakes susceptible to winterkill, which is created when sunlight is unable to penetrate the ice and oxygen levels in the water drop.

Fish are often unable to survive in these low-oxygen conditions. Such lakes are opened so the public can make use of these fish, which are otherwise likely to die. Tests conducted on Pelican on Friday showed oxygen levels less than 1 part per million throughout the lake.

I just fished the lake and wrote about it and the plans by the DNR to drastically lower the water levels over the next couple years to restore waterfowl habitat. That likely means the end-of-the-line as a fishery. Here's a link to that story:

Here's more from DNR:

On a lake open to liberalized fishing, licensed resident anglers may take for personal use all species of fish, in any quantity and in any manner, except with the use of seines, hoopnets, fyke nets or explosives. Rough fish such as bullheads, carp, suckers, and buffalo fish may be sold. If used, all gill nets must have metal tags affixed to the net stating the operator's name and address; the tags must be attached to one end of the float line near the first float. Each tag must be a minimum of 2-1/2 inches by 5/8 inches.

Anglers are reminded that they must obey all laws regarding trespassing on private property, and that it is against the law to discard fish on shore or on the ice.

For the latest information on lakes that are open to liberalized fishing and for detailed information about those lakes, go to