Statement issued Thursday by DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife:
When Max Amstutz of Spencerville caught several walleyes from a northern Indiana natural lake recently, he did the right thing.
Amstutz let them go. Legally, however, that wasn’t necessary.
Each of the walleyes measured exactly 14 1/8 inches long from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail — that is, with the tip of the tail stretched out to its maximum length. The walleyes were at least 14 inches long, Indiana’s minimum size limit for walleye.
Trouble is, and what bothered Amstutz, was the fact that the walleyes were only 13 and 3/4 inches long when the tail was unfolded and measured in its normal position. Not wanting to risk arrest for keeping fish that were too small, he let them go.
Then he contacted the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to find out how fish are supposed to be measured in order to comply with size limit requirements.
“I didn’t want to bring them to the boat ramp and have a game warden check them and find them short,” he said.
According to the rules, Amstutz could have kept the fish.
“Fish are measured for their maximum length from the tip of the jaw to the tip of the compressed tail fin,” said Jed Pearson, DFW fisheries biologist. “His walleyes were legal size, although barely.”
“Max could have kept his walleyes but we’re glad he let them go,” said Pearson. “The next time he catches them, or someone else catches them, they will be bigger.”
Pearson said DFW biologists have considered increasing the walleye size limit at some lakes but so far they do not have strong scientific data to indicate it is needed.
“Increasing the size limit is something we’re looking at,” he said.