Category Archives: Fishing & Ice Report

December 14th, 2017

After checking ice farther out I found from 8-9 inches to as little as 4 inches. Stakes are up to the Graveyard Reef, Ray’s Reef (what I’ve always called it), Gull Reef, East Spider Reef where eventually our roads will be.  Popes Reef I’m still undecided on how to get to it because of alot of it is in the area of rougher ice.  But I will find a way.

Tomorrow is our first day open for the season, and for this weekend it will be ATV/Snowmobile portable fishing only.  We have plenty of parking for fishermen with portables, wheelhouses. etc.  Some are already camping out there tonite.

Our office hours will be 7:00 am to 7:00 pm this weekend. After we get going, getting houses out and letting fishermen drive they will go to 7:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday thru Saturdays and 7:00 to 5:00 pm Sundays.  Keep that  in your memory…   🙂

Keep a Tight Line!  Eddy

December 13th, 2017

Today the N/W picked up and blew 20-30 mph.  My plans for getting out farther and checking ice were put on hold. With the blowing and drifting the visibility was to the point I was not comfortable knowing what the ice looked liked ahead of me.  So I worked on getting thru the rough ice out to Gull Reef where i knew it was thick enough to run on what will be the “Graveyard Road” and accomplished that.  Tomorrow after the winds drop I will be checking ice depths and working our way out to the Graveyard Reef, Rays, and north side of Pope’s.  From what little checking of ice I did do, I’m pretty sure it will be more than enough for ATV/Snowmobile portable traffic so plan accordingly.

We will have plenty of parking available where we always do and encourage wheelhouse campers for the weekend.  Those that have been here before know where we do that. The sign along our entrance will show where to set-up. Everyone will need to “check-in” at the office by in the “Red House” by the lake before going out.  you will notice as you come up to the lake the old barn that was always there is in the stages of restoration, and hopefully if finances allow next year the lower lower part will have bathrooms and showers and the new “office” that barn was built by my Grandfather when he first homesteaded here 110 years ago, and Cindy and I are proud to “resurrect” it for hopefully long after we are gone for our family to carry on…It has a long way to go, but it is well on it’s way to be there ready for next season.

I’m getting anxious to see how the bite will be, so come up and give it a try. The weather sounds very good for portable fishing from the last report i heard… So we will be “officially” open for business on Friday.

Keep a Tight Line!
Eddy

December 12th, 2017

Today I got out thru the rough ice which was about a 1/3 mile and from there it looks like it will be a little more manageable.  I checked ice  thickness a little farther and it was  approximately 7-8″.  I still have alot to check before we are going to let people go and plan to do that tomorrow.

My plans are to have roads/trails marked and ice checked in areas for ATV/snowmobile traffic for later this week and weekend.  Tomorrow I evening I will be able to confirm it after spending the day out there.

For those that have wheelhouses and want to portable and stay overnight we have lots of room out in our field along our driveway.  The weather sounds like it will be in the low 30’s so it will be good portable fishing weather.  I’m not planning on pulling any houses out until we get more ice.  So it will be ATV/Snowmobile thru the weekend at for now.

Keep a Tight Line!    Eddy

December 11th, 2017

Overnight we got about and inch or two of snow.  It was nice to see the ground white again.  It made it alot easier to be in the mood for getting out there. My plans to get out there and check more ice depths and conditions were shut down by the wind by the time I got back from the marine shop.  By 10:30 the wind had switched NW and it was better to leave things alone than fight it.

Tomorrow I will be getting out and checking ice farther out and start to establish some the beginnings of roads out a little ways.  At least thru the roughest parts which is the first 1/3 mile or so.  After that I don’t really know how rough it is except what I can see thru the spotting scope. But by watching it I know there should at least be some consistency, but you never know about rough ice….

Either way I’m hoping to have something ready for ATV’S /snowmobiles to some of the areas we fish for the upcoming weekend.  PLEASE keep watching this report instead of calling as I will update it every evening from this day on.  It saves alot on phones calls for my wife Cindy who is more than busy with reservations and all the year end tax stuff that always keeps her more than occupied..

Watch this report.. we have a 20 acre field ready for  “wheelhouse” campers with ATV’s if I can pull this ice road thing off…  Keep a Tight Line!

Eddy

December 9th, 2017

Yesterday we received just a trace of snow and this morning there are just a few flurries. The ground isn’t even white yet we have so little of it.  Which is good for making ice.

We will not be letting people out of our access over this weekend.  Plans are Monday to go out and check ice thickness and conditions and decide when and what we are going to do.  This year because of the extreme wind when it finally froze on Tuesday there are some pretty rough looking spots from what we can see from shore.  But won’t really know how good or bad it is until we get out there and look.

At three pm. I went out and checked out the ice the first hundred yards or so.  Ice thickness varied from 4 to 8 inches and was extremely rough. And by the looks of it thru the spotting scope, we have alot of work ahead of us this year.

Keep a Tight Line!

Eddy

 

December 7th, 2017

The strong NW wind finally let up overnite.  It would be my guess that by this evening the entire open lake will be locked up, but it is far from being in a condition to start venturing out on.  The bays have decent ice, but I won’t be going out on the ice in front to check thickness until after this weekend.  By the end of the day today I will have the access ready thru the slush ice piles that were formed .

From what I can see we have a couple rough stretches of ice to get thru, but most of it doesn’t look too bad.  Some areas in close that we go to probably are going to have slush under the ice from it freezing while it was windy the last couple days, but we’ve lived thru that before also.

Last evening we had a MLFAC meeting and discussed the “charter” for the group with the DNR Commissioner. After and hour and a half of discussion, things stayed about the same, and now the Commissioner’s office has to respond to our recommendations within two weeks. Where as before many recommendations were just put on the “backburner” so to speak. We in turn to keep with “transparency” need to finalize and publicly vote on our recommendations at the meetings.  Which works for me.  We can still email and discuss proposals outside of the meetings, get general consensuses and not waste all the meeting time to pick apart everything before deciding.  A good committee does most of it’s footwork before the meeting, and we will continue to do that.  I will be the first to admit I’ve just about had it some of the “political” management of this lake at some times and have really thought about throwing in the towel.  And after almost 40 years of working to improve and protect the fishery and see it get ripped apart by two different forms of “management”  is disheartening to the say the least. But maybe some good things will start happening this next year……

Keep a Tight Line!

Eddy

December 6th, 2017

With the cooler weather the last couple days the main lake is starting to freeze up. (look at the webcam), I think by Thursday-Friday it should be completely ice covered and with the forecast of another cold blast next week things should be on track for a more “normal” time for getting out there.

If the snow will hold off the next two weeks I hoping to get out there by the 15th to 20th with smaller houses and get started. But we will wait and see.  The next couple days I will be working on the access as slush ice piled up pretty good this year when it first froze.

It shouldn’t be too long now…   Keep a Tight Line!

Eddy

November 28th, 2017

The warm weather over the weekend and the next few days are not doing anything to improve ice conditions, or the making of ice on the lake. As of this afternoon the northwest wind has pretty much destroyed what ice we did have… So we wait…work on fish house improvements and work on trucks.

In the last couple days social media became a vocal outlet for those that want to blame someone or a business, and even the sport of ice fishing  with the deteriorating ice conditions in the wake of this warmer weather. After an “early” freeze in the first half of November. The saddest part is that lives were lost, family and friends suffer a tragic and unjustifiable reason for loss of life.  My prayers go out to them.

In the 45 years I have been on the ice running this place I have seen alot of things happen. Seen and had some close calls, almost lost my Dad when he was in his 60’s to it when he dropped his snowmobile in and couldn’t get out of the water. (Fortunately there were two close by fishermen that came to his rescue.) The one thing that was instilled in me from all these years is that “ICE is NEVER SAFE”.  Granted there are many times when everything goes good, usually by mid season with some snow cover on good ice it gets easier it becomes almost routine. But early ice is ALWAYS the most dangerous. And it seems that temperature changes in the late fall and early winter are different from what I experienced over the years. But early ice has always been and probably always will be the best fishing, or that idea for most.And after the waiting for it all fall, fishermen along with businesses that provide that service get anxious.

These comments following are my opinion. but I feel I can contribute my thoughts on what has happened to the ice fishing industry as a whole. Especially since I have been on the ice longer than most of all of you fishermen and business owners in the ice business. Through the years I’ve done this for a living alot of things have changed. Of all the changes I have seen is the “hype” for Ice Fishing.  i was in at the beginning of the “fish trap” portables before they even became popular. I was in with the beginning of depth finders thru the ice. In fact, back when they had “paper” graphs I was experimenting with them out in the “tullibee hole” 35 years ago.  I’ve seen it evolve into a “business” that company’s capitalized on with “portability” and early access to the ice before the “skid-houses” got out on Mille Lacs.  I’ve had customers with custom built “wheelhouses” 25 years before “Ice Castles” were even thought about being built.  I’ve have seen the effects of them on the ice roads, increased traffic, and the roads breaking up because of it.  I seen fishermen’s and  perspectives of “how to ice fish”for  longer than most of you out there reading this.  And to be brutally honest all of that has screwed up what “ice fishing” was supposed to be.  The idea that you need to drill a hundred holes, or move into an area and screw up a good fishing spot because you are going to be there one night with your wheelhouse and have the wind drift snow around your house and on the road that the guy that plowed for you and others so you can get out to that spot….  All it shows it lack of respect for others, just like most open water anglers are becoming these days also.  Except in the winter,  you can screw up a spot when parking your rig and wheelhouse without thinking about the prevailing wind direction to minimize drifting, and you can potentially wreck an area for the rest of the season with your lack of knowledge.  That is not even saying anything about the speeds most drive on the ice with the weight of your truck and wheelhouse on roads provided to you so you can get to where you can fish….and sadly most don’t even have a clue, our just plain don’t care.  To all that I blame the “hype” brought on by businesses that promoting and are heralded as “revolutionizing” ice fishing.  All bullshit in my book…sorry, but I’ve seen it…..

Upper Red lake has been over the last 20 some years since the “crappie” boon has been the “Wild West” of the ice fishing changes, with portables, wheelhouses, etc.  My customers of over twenty years here and still good friends, Jerry and Joanie Barthel, got out of the “city life” and moved north and purchased Roger’s Campground.  They both lived thru the Walleye closure years ago after they purchased it and when the Crappie boon started it saved their business.  When the Walleyes came back they sold and still live up there. They both seen the changes as it happened up there and lived thru them. I highly doubt that if Jerry would have seen the conditions that the last week produced on the ice up there that fishermen would have been able to go out from his place after what he learned, but I can’t say for sure..  But though all these years even though I’m farther south I know what has happened up there.  This last week will hopefully change some of the resort’s way of doing business, and hopefully had a “wake up call” and will think a little more about safety for their customers to the best of their ability, and be a little more cautious with all the hordes of fishermen that visit there…  But at the same time it should always be each individual fishermen’s responsibility once they are on the ice for themselves and for their safety… despite how much the resort tries to make it as safe as possible..I’ve seen too many times that you can’t watch over everyone…

That’s all I can say,  I’m just very sad for the people and families loss of life just to go catch a Walleye..  I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing all these years and keeping it under control my way…after 45 years it’s still working…

Keep a Tight Line…Eddy

 

November 23rd, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

It is that time of year again and the main lake ice is forming. Yesterday there was ice as far as we could see from our place, but with this warmer weather coming the next few days I doubt if it will stay.

We are busy at the place going thru trucks and equipment, checking the rentals and making improvements, and waiting for ice.

Another project we are working on this year is restoring the old barn, (the one you see when you came in our driveway),  when you see it again you will be surprised to see the changes.  The downstairs part by next year will be our Ice Fishing office, with bathrooms and showers for our customers if all goes as planned. The upstairs,(haymow), will be restored to it’s original condition and alot of the downstairs will have a restored look also.  You will have to see it when you get here.

Alot has happened on the fishing front this past summer with the DNR.  The lake is approaching the “almost recovered” stage according to them. But “politics” between the Bands and the State is affecting our harvest.  I’m not getting into it now. But you will hear more from me on that as we continue thru the year.

The TWP Fishing Contest will be held again this year on Saturday, February 24th, 2018.  So those that want to plan ahead, there is the date.   Rules, entry fee, etc will be similar to last year, but I provide more as we go.

Hope everyone had a nice summer and let’s all look forward to a fun winter on the ice!!

Keep a Tight Line!!

Eddy

July 1st, 2017

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…..

Eddy