Key Changes to 2024 Manitoba Fishing Regulations

Manitoba, known as the “Land of 100,000 Lakes”,  offers world-class fishing opportunities with over 100,000 freshwater lakes and countless rivers across the province. As an angler visiting or residing in Manitoba, it is crucial to understand the provincial fishing regulations to ensure compliance and contribute to sustainable recreational fishing.

As an angler in Manitoba, staying up-to-date with the latest fishing regulations is crucial for enjoying a successful and responsible fishing experience. The 2024 season brings about significant changes that every angler should be aware of, aimed at promoting sustainable fishing practices and preserving the province’s rich aquatic resources for generations to come. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the key regulatory updates, provide in-depth analysis, and offer insights to help you navigate the new rules with ease.

New Possession Limits and Size Restrictions

One of the most notable changes in the 2024 regulations is the implementation of more conservative possession limits and size restrictions for several popular species. These measures are designed to enhance the protection of larger, mature fish, which play a vital role in maintaining sustainable populations through natural reproduction.

Walleye and Sauger

The possession limit for walleye and sauger has been reduced from six fish to four, with a maximum size limit of 55 cm (approximately 21.5 inches) in most waters across Manitoba. This change aims to safeguard the larger, breeding individuals and promote the long-term health of these highly sought-after species.

According to a study by the Manitoba Sustainable Development, implementing more restrictive size limits for walleye can lead to a significant increase in the abundance of larger, older fish, which are crucial for maintaining strong reproductive potential and genetic diversity within the population.

Northern Pike

The possession limit for northern pike has been set at four fish, with a maximum size limit of 75 cm (approximately 29.5 inches). This regulation recognizes the importance of preserving the larger, more fecund individuals, which contribute significantly to the overall reproductive success of the species.

Lake Trout

While the possession limit for lake trout remains at one fish in the Southern Division, any lake trout caught cannot exceed 65 cm (approximately 25.5 inches) in length. This measure aims to protect the larger, older individuals, which are essential for maintaining a healthy age structure and genetic diversity within the lake trout population.

Channel Catfish

The possession limit for channel catfish continues to be four fish, but a new maximum size limit of 60 cm (approximately 23.5 inches) has been implemented province-wide. This regulation seeks to safeguard the larger, more productive individuals, ensuring a sustainable catfish population for future generations.

These regulation changes reflect a growing understanding of the importance of preserving larger, mature fish for the long-term sustainability of Manitoba’s fisheries. By protecting these individuals, the province aims to maintain healthy populations and provide anglers with exceptional fishing opportunities for years to come.

New License Options and Fees

In an effort to streamline the licensing system and provide more flexibility for anglers, Manitoba has introduced several changes to its fishing license structure for 2024:

  • One annual full-season license for each residency type (Manitoba resident, Canadian resident, and non-resident), replacing the previous conservation/regular license categories.
  • A new one-day license option, offering a more affordable alternative for quick fishing trips.
  • The ability to carry licenses electronically or in printed form, eliminating the need for physical signatures.
  • Increased license fees for non-residents, with the annual license now priced at $57.75 CAD and the one-day license at $19.95 CAD.

These changes aim to simplify the licensing process, cater to the diverse needs of anglers, and generate additional revenue to support the management and conservation of Manitoba’s fisheries.

Seasonal Considerations

While the 2024 regulations open up year-round fishing opportunities for some species, anglers must remain mindful of species-specific seasons and closures designed to protect vulnerable fish during critical periods, such as spawning.

Walleye and Sauger

  • Closed season: April 3 – May 19 on Lake Winnipeg
  • Closed season: First Monday in April – Second Friday in May in most Southern Division waters

These closures are implemented to safeguard walleye and sauger populations during their spawning periods, ensuring successful reproduction and the long-term sustainability of these species.

Lake Trout

  • Open season: November 1 – September 14 in the Southern Division
  • Lake-specific closures remain in effect in the Northern Divisions

These regulations aim to protect lake trout during their spawning periods and ensure the long-term viability of their populations.

Lake Sturgeon

  • Open season: June 16 – April 30 in the Southern Division
  • Open season: July 1 – April 30 in the Northern Divisions

Strict conservation catch-and-release practices are mandated for lake sturgeon, a species of special concern due to its slow growth rate and late maturation.

Spring closures on certain rivers also remain in effect to protect spawning fish concentrations. Anglers are advised to target open species during the spring and never fish in closed waters.

Responsible Fishing Practices

The 2024 regulations strongly encourage ethical angling practices that limit unnecessary fish mortality and harm, contributing to the overall sustainability of Manitoba’s fisheries.

Barbless Hooks

The use of barbless hooks is highly recommended, as they facilitate easier and safer release of caught fish, minimizing injury and increasing their chances of survival.

Minimizing Fight Time and Handling

Anglers are advised to minimize the fight time when catching fish and refrain from removing them from the water for extended periods or for photography purposes. These practices reduce stress and increase the likelihood of successful release.

Releasing Large Trophy Fish

To preserve the breeding population, anglers are encouraged to release large trophy fish, particularly those approaching or exceeding the maximum size limits. These individuals play a crucial role in maintaining healthy, genetically diverse populations.

Cutting Lines on Deeply Hooked Fish

In cases where a fish is deeply hooked, anglers should consider cutting the line as close to the hook as possible, rather than attempting to remove the hook. This practice minimizes additional harm and increases the fish’s chances of survival.

Bait Restrictions

To prevent the introduction of invasive species and protect Manitoba’s aquatic ecosystems, anglers must adhere to bait restrictions in certain waters. The use of live bait fish is currently permitted until 2027, pending a phaseout, but the use of aquatic bait is banned in many areas due to the risk of spreading non-native species.

Ice Fishing Changes

The 2024 regulations also introduce modifications to ice fishing shelter regulations, aimed at enhancing safety and accountability:

  • Shelters must display the owner’s name and phone number in 5 cm (approximately 2 inches) letters on the outside of the shelter.
  • Shelters must be removed by March 15 from Southern Division Area B waters.

As with open water fishing, ice anglers must adhere to species seasons, limits, and conservation handling practices to ensure a sustainable and responsible ice fishing experience.

Finding Up-to-Date Information

Given the potential for annual changes in fishing regulations, it is crucial for anglers to stay informed and consult official sources for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

The Manitoba Government’s fishing regulation website and the free Manitoba Anglers’ Guide are invaluable resources, providing detailed information on:

  • License requirements and exemptions
  • Seasons, limits, and size restrictions by species
  • Special regulations for certain waters
  • Fishing ethics and responsible angling practices

Guides are available online and in printed form, ensuring easy access to the latest regulations.

Conclusion

The 2024 fishing season in Manitoba brings exciting new opportunities for anglers, but also enhanced protections for the province’s incredible fisheries. By following the regulations diligently, practicing responsible angling, and embracing a conservation-minded approach, anglers can contribute to the sustainability of Manitoba’s world-renowned recreational fisheries.

With abundant trophy fish, endless waterways, and cooperative stewardship among anglers, Manitoba’s fishing future looks bright. By staying informed, respecting the regulations, and cherishing these natural resources, we can ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to experience the thrill of angling in this angler’s paradise.

For further reading on one of Manitoba’s unique fish species, check out the Wikipedia article on Burbot, a freshwater cod species found in the province’s waters.

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