One culturally embedded misconception is that the DNR wants people to kill native rough fish because many are listed as having no possession limit and perceived as having no value. Worse, some people conflate native rough fish with common carp, an invasive species targeted by DNR for mass removal for ruining critical habitat in lakes and rivers.

"The DNR needs to create limits for these fish so people can see them as a benefit, not a detriment,'' Winter said.

The redhorse sucker fish, for example, is a vital food source for game fish. In the St. Croix River basin, Wisconsin officials list the river redhorse as a threatened species. Yet in Minnesota, redhorse is only a "rough fish.''

Buffalo fish eat unwanted algae. Gar and bowfin are among the few fish that eat carp. Eelpout, when properly prepared, makes good table fare. . . .

Becker-Finn said this week she'll consider reviving her bill — possibly with more teeth in it —if things aren't "rolling'' inside the DNR to pay more attention toward more native fish. Her attempt to prod the agency into action has drawn support from groups like the Izaak Walton League, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Minnesota Conservation Federation, she said.

"It's sort of common sense for a lot of people,'' said Becker-Finn, D-Roseville. "The average member of the public is put off by the idea that you can be killing a bunch of fish for fun.''

Let's hope the movement to conserve native fish continues. My partner and I recently enjoyed watching large buffalo fish feeding on algae in the backwaters of a nearby lake here in Northeastern South Dakota. Quite the show.

Related post:

Image: A long-nosed gar.

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