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Wine, women and walleye

For many Vermont anglers, walleyes have a magical pull-they're right are up there on the list with other Green Mountain State delights such as a big glass of Lincoln Peak Frontenac and a fresh block of Cabot Hunter's cheddar cheese. Now a new fishing regulation designed to improve walleye fishing in Vermont will affect nearly all Vermont waterways.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board passed the statewide regulation based on recommendations from the public and state fisheries biologists with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. The new fishing rules apply to all waters of Vermont except Lake Carmi, Chittenden Reservoir and the Connecticut River.

Walleye and sauger have an 18-inch minimum length and a three-fish combined daily creel limit. The open season begins the first Saturday in May.

Fish and Wildlife Department biologists gathered input at public meetings and through discussions with members of the Lake Champlain Walleye Association before proposing the rule change.

The Fish and Wildlife Board held three public hearings during the rulemaking process. The biologists, and most members of the public who spoke-including several women anglers-believe the new regulation will improve walleye fishing in Vermont. Applying the same regulation statewide simplifies Vermont's walleye fishing rules, helping anglers to understand and obey the law and helping wardens to enforce it.

The 18-inch minimum length limit increases the chances that female walleye will have at least one opportunity to spawn before being caught by anglers. The reduced creel limit may help spread the harvest more evenly among anglers. The statewide closed season will help protect walleye during the spawning period. The new regulation also protects sauger, which are increasingly rare in Lake Champlain.

Fishing rules on Lake Carmi, Chittenden Reservoir and the Connecticut River will not change in 2009.

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