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Featured speaker Don Schreiner talks Minnesota fisheries

A man in a blue jacket holds a large fish with green trees in the background.
Itasca Waters
Fisheries expert Don Schreiner poses with a trout.

Itasca Waters hosts their next Practical Water Wisdom webinar at noon on Thursday, May 2, with fisheries biologist Don Schreiner.

Don Schreiner is a fisheries biologist with approximately 35 years of experience managing fisheries with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He spent the first 10 years working on inland lakes and the last 25 years managing Minnesota’s portion of Lake Superior.

After retiring from the DNR, Don volunteered and became employed part-time as a fisheries specialist with Minnesota Sea Grant, focusing on transferring technical fisheries information to the public in a way that is easy to understand.

Schreiner will be the featured speaker at this month’s Itasca Waters’ Practical Water Wisdom webinar series Thursday, May 2, at noon.

In a recent conversation on the KAXE Morning Show, Schreiner introduced us to the four shelves in the fisheries toolbox: assessment, managing habitat, regulations and stocking.

When Schreiner started in fisheries management in the early 1980s, stocking lakes with fish was more common than it is now.

“Scientists started to realize that stocking was not the only game in town and that if you wanted to have good fish populations, you needed to have habitat that supported them,” Schreiner said.

"People who own property on a lake, or are very interested in the lake, need to pay attention to what's going on in the watershed. Because everything that happens in the watershed ends up going back into that lake. So, if there's some sort of development that may not be the best situation for the lake, folks need to weigh in on that and make their voices heard.”

Technology also plays a role in the health of fisheries. Many modern-day anglers come equipped with underwater cameras and forward-looking sonar, which enables anglers to catch more fish over less time. This added angler efficiency can place a lot of pressure on fish populations, KAXE staff phenologist John Latimer remarked.

“The technology that anglers have is almost - I would say, in some cases, better - than what fishery scientists have," Schreiner responded. "And what that goes back to is, again, managing people. So, when it gets so simple to find these fish stocks and if they're actually biting, that's where the regulations come in.

"So, there is a lot of discussion going on the last couple years about the forward-looking sonar. And, there's been a lot of discussion actually over the last 10 years about limiting the number of fish people can take, so it not only protects the fish stocks, which is biological, but it spreads that catch over more people, which is kind of an ethical concern that fish managers get into as well.”

Schreiner added, “Everybody who buys a fishing license becomes my boss when I work for DNR. And it's hard to serve 1.5 million bosses, because that's how many licenses we sell approximately in Minnesota.”

Listen to the full conversation from the KAXE Morning Show above.

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Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.
As a mail carrier in rural Grand Rapids, Minn., for 35 years, John Latimer put his own stamp on a career that delivered more than letters. Indeed, while driving the hundred-mile round-trip daily route, he passed the time by observing and recording seasonal changes in nature, learning everything he could about the area’s weather, plants and animals, and becoming the go-to guy who could answer customers’ questions about what they were seeing in the environment.