Fishing season is "reely" close, and it's coming with some updates to regulations.

With southwest Saskatchewan benefiting from the southern zone for fishing, folks get to hit the lakes before most of the province. Being the first to cast a line also means being the first to learn the new rules. 

Every year, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment updates the limits where needed, preventing overfishing of local species. 

Murry Koob, a sport fish specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, is involved with the process of managing the different zones. He and his colleagues are responsible for determining not only when things open up but where things will be restricted. 

"The majority of waters within the province, including the southwest part of the province, go by general limits," shared Koob. "It's always advisable for everyone going out to partake and support fishing, to consult the anglers guide. There are a variety of different regulations that govern the sport of fishing. In addition to the general limits, some waters will have lake-specific limits."

This year, folks can expect Lake Reid and the Duncan Reservoir to have steeper limits on perch fishing. Folks are encouraged to consult the anglers guide, either by picking up a pamphlet or by checking online, to see if the lake they are on has a limit for the fish they are after. 

"Pretty much it's all the same," said Koob. "But there's a few waters in the southern management zone that have some reduced limits."

Lake of the Prairies will have reduced walleye and pike limits. Green Water Lake and Marine Lake will also have some changes made to their respective limits for walleye. 

In the central zone, Jan Lake will be closed until mid-June for spawning. East Trout Lake has a reduced limit for lake trout. Little Bear Lake has a reduced limit for lake trout and will be closed in the fall for spawning those trout. 

"That's the extent of the changes for this year," said Koob. " The season dates are the same. Angling license fees are the same, and the overall general regulations remain unchanged from last year as well."

The opening dates are May 5 for the southern zone, May 15 for the central zone, and May 25 for the northern zone. These dates are staggered to allow spawning opportunities for fish. 

Remember always to keep a skin tag on fillets when transporting. Fishing over the limit comes with a hefty fine and is not worth the extra catch. While it is important to catch dinner, it's always a good idea to let the smaller ones go to keep the younger population intact. The same can be said for larger fish, as they are able to contribute more to the population. Responsible, sustainable fishing is critical to ensuring that future generations can explore Saskatchewan waterways, enjoying the sport.