The Hilltop Stop is sponsoring a CPR Contest (Catch, Photograph, and Release). ďWe are looking at a means of preserving the lakes and its fish,Ē Dick Madison, Hilltop Stop, said. ďThe lakes are our number one natural resource. Everyone will benefit, in the long run, by returning the fish to the lake.ĒShawn Evans, owner of Hilltop Stop, checked and found the CPR contest is the first of its kind in the area.All fish being entered may be caught on any lake within a 15-mile radius of Hilltop Stop, located on the southeast edge of Paynesville on Highway 55. All participants entering fish must have a photo of their entry taken on a measuring tape given to them at registration with a verfication form completed. The form must be signed by a witness. All fish must be released back to the lake from which it was caught alive.
Fish that may be entered in the contest are northern pike over 29.5 inches long; walleye, over 22 inches long; largemouth bass over 19 inches long; smallmouth bass, over 17 inches long; crappies over 11 inches long; and sunfish over 8.5 inches long.
Participants may enter fish in one or more categories. The contest ends Sept. 5 with a grand prize being awarded Sept. 6 for each species.
The Big Fish Display runs from May 10 through Labor Day at the Outdoor Store, located at the intersection of Highways 55 and 23 in Paynesville. This is the 42nd year for this annual contest. There is a new contest every two weeks. Fish must be caught within a 50-mile radius of Paynesville.
The fish entered in the contest must be left on display at the Outdoor Store for three days. No frozen fish will be accepted for the contest.
Types of fish and their minimum weight to be accepted are: northern, seven pounds; walleye, four and a half pounds; largemouth and smallmouth bass, three and a half pounds; crappie, one pound; and sunfish, 12 ounces.
Drewes said the ďclip the lineĒ advice will have practical implications at lakes where a new minimum size limit is in effect. ďIf the hook is in the fishís lip or roof of the mouth, definitely remove it, but if the fish inhaled the hook deeply, just snip the line. Usually, the fish will be just fine.Ē
The DNR conducted an extensive walleye hooking mortality study during the late 1980s. The mortality of walleye caught and released by anglers averaged five percent though some evidence suggested it may be somewhat higher. Mortality of walleye caught on leeches was the highest at 10 percent; on artificial lures was zero; on night crawlers, minnows and other live bait, two percent.
Anglers who catch-and-release fish are encouraged to:
ēPlay the fish quickly
ēHold the fish firmly but gently
ēUse a needlenose pliers to remove hooks.
ēUse brass hooks rather than stainless steel, which rust more slowly.
ēGently slide the fish into water.
ēUnless required by law, donít release a fish that canít right itself and bobs back to the surface or that is bleeding profusely.
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