As an armchair biologist who has not researched the science of LOTW in depth, I’d like to see a smaller limit that’s proactive and maybe a look into protecting a few smaller fish. The big resorts I’ve been through in day houses are not so subtly telling people to keep 12-13″ fish to get an almighty “LIMIT”. Something like 4 walleyes/saugers in a harvest slot of 14-19″ and 1 trophy fish 28″+ seems responsible.
People flocked like sheep to URL to harvest their 2 eater walleyes last winter. I cannot buy the argument that suddenly the resorts would see any less business if they dropped to 4 fish on LOTW.
I don’t think they’d see any drop in business whatsoever if they dropped the limit to 4. LOTW, apart from maybe URL in early winter, remains one of the only places you can book a trip and nearly guarantee that you’ll bring some fish home with little effort(as it relates to winter ‘guided’ fishing).
Summer fishing LOTW is pretty close to a rich man’s sport already. Not a lot of people going out in 16-17′ boats anymore. The Rainy is a bit different than that though. Not that you couldn’t, but it’s just a long ways to pull a boat that’s only going to get you on the water comfortably 1 out of 3 days up there.
LOTW may mirror Mille Lacs in some ways, but it’s altogether a different animal when it comes to recreational traffic/fishing in the summer. I’d wager Mille Lacs gets 20-50x the recreational fishing traffic that LOTW does, just given it’s proximity to the cities, the level of residential development, and the accessibility of the lake given wind direction and speed.
If the wind is blowing from the north(or even NE, NW), you can’t just drive to the north side of LOTW and get away from it. Combine that with a 6 hour drive, virtually zero residential property owners on the lake, and you’re looking at a whole different beast entirely.