It’s been awhile since I posted, and here we are… Headed to a closure of the Walleye season on July 7th. There are so many things I want to say about all of this but I would have to write a book. (Don’t worry…I am, and when this is whole deal is over it will be published.) I have lived here for 62 years now, been on the lake or associated with it’s fishery in one way or another for over forty. And what is going on now is just absurd in terms of common sense… you couldn’t even make this stuff up…There is so many things that are just plain wrong in my opinion with what is happening up here with the Mille Lacs Fishery.
#1 I do not believe our DNR’s numbers based on their fall gill-net assessments for population numbers of Walleye. The nets are in the same places they were in shallow water that were picked in 1980. (They are the ones telling us that water clarity is changing where the Walleye are..) They don’t want to upset a 40 year old study based on when water clarity was 3-5 feet then and now is 15-20 feet at times of no tributary runoff.
#2 Our DNR , (because of GLIFWC’s pressures of “Treaty Co-management” by the Bands), are saying the Walleye need to get back to the 2.2 million lb “spawning biomass” numbers we used to have.. Did we really even know that number was accurate? Some members of the DNR “Blue Ribbon” panel have stated Walleye populations will never get back to where they once were. But yet they are “striving” to get back to that 2.2 million pounds…. (?) None of their biologist’s have even considered how many Smallmouth Bass were in the lake until last fall after the incredible results of the Bassmasters Angler of the Year Tournament in September. Seth Feider won it with a record breaking average weight per fish, they touted about what a great bass fishery Mille lacs has become….Our DNR just this spring started tagging them to find out how many they think there are out there. (Thought they might have been checking that the last ten years with all the changes..)
#3 We have had a baitfish shortage and have had it for years with dwindling Perch catches, lakeshore owners not seeing schools of minnows like they used to. Spot-tail Shiners on the decline. And most importantly lake of surviving year classes of Walleye. Why? I think I know and know it well… this lake has been managed incorrectly because of “treaty management”. Because of the harvest by the Bands in the spring during the Walleye spawn, besides taking numbers of Walleye, they took literally billions of potentially surviving Walleye fry that were either “food” for others as nature intended, or surviving fry to grow. Our DNR to keep the angler “happy” lowered the size of harvest-able Walleye to target 16-20 inch fish. And guess what happen…we ended up with a large eating machine that kept growing older every year.
#4 Oh, and what about the Bass, Muskies, and Northern Pike? They kept eating too.. And everyone wanted to catch the trophy….and then the Walleyes became food for others also. It just amazes me that not one biologist can even acknowledge that and the press releases always say that they can’t figure out why the survival rate of the Walleyes after one year is a puzzle….talk about “fake news” this is it. It’s all because they have to cover their tracks, because if it was proved that that was the cause, and the effects it had on the businesses, property values and social issues around the lake, they could be in deep trouble. Already one resort filed a claim and received $150,000 from the State of Minnesota. Boy, did they really try to cover their tracks after that….. my opinion of course.
#5 There is also a hidden agenda out there that most people in this State don’t know about concerning Mille Lacs, the Mille lacs Band, and Mille lacs County. The Mille lacs Band does not have a reservation even though most of you “think” so. It was disestablished long ago thru a number of treaty’s and court decisions. They have approximately have 3000 acres of trust land where the casiono is and another acreage est of Isle, They have been trying for over twenty years to get the public to think so, and are trying to get the State to recognize a boundary that was made in 1837 and later disestablished by the federal government. Mille Lacs County and the State of Minnesota says no, and if it went to court the Band would most likely lose. So the decline of the fishery and seeing the resorts fail and having people getting discouraged and selling is just what they want. The land where businesses and resorts once were are purchased and taken off the tax roles in Mille lacs County, thus increasing property taxes for those that stay, and reducing the accessibility of Mille lacs lake by removing more accesses to it by closing down resorts for all of Minnesota’s citizens. Sad but true folks…
#6 It is interesting that the DNR is estimating Bass population by numbers of fish and not pounds of fish like they do for Walleye .I wonder how many pounds of Bass are in the lake? If the population was estimated by pounds, the numbers might “scare” the fishermen. Many of us have been saying for years poundage is not an accurate way to estimate or manage a population. But we are forced to “micromanage”our harvest to the pound and be penalized for overages… Totally absurd again to me… And not one fisheries biologist has mentioned or talked about the “too many fish in the fishbowl theory” at our meetings, despite the lack of baitfish and cannibalizing of Walleye fry. I’ve talked to a fisheries biologist from another State close by and they have worked with that principle idea for many years, and finally took control of how their lakes are managed. But here.., they are doing a study to find out when the zebra mussels started in the lake and should have the results in 2 years…..I don’t really care when they started and it is not going to cure our problems. Or is it to find another way to get out of mismanagement?
I’d better stop. What is going one up here is just crazy. I feel sorry for our DNR fisheries personal. Their working with their hands tied behind their back, (so to speak), because of “treaty co-management” and our Governor Dayton’s ignorance to the situation. All he is concerned about is how much tribal gaming lobbying money is given to his party at the Capitol, and will eventually “sell off” the State of Minnesota’s control of it’s natural resources to the Bands for it if you don’t call your representatives down there and tell them to stop!!….The State should have sole control of the management of it’s natural resources. It’s all politics and money now and if the sportsman in this State of Minnesota and all the other public figures, ( that could have helped if they spoke up earlier when this was going on), had better speak up now….before it is too late, or it will be lost forever…..There is a treaty rights case for off reservation harvest on all the lakes and land from mid-Minnesota north to the Canadian border coming up soon. And if the State buckles on that and doesn’t fight it..it’s over. We now have a Supreme Court that can possibly change the tide if the State argues it…..