March 16th, 2016

Things are pretty quiet up here at Mille lacs.  Not many fishermen even though the ice is still pretty good.  The Perch bite is pretty slow and the pressure ridge that is all around the lake has halted most of the traffic that would normally be here this time of year.

Last Friday, March 10th, the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee met with MN DNR officials.  They told us of there preliminary results of the “Technical Committee” meetings with the Bands involved with the 1837 “Treaty management” of Mille Lacs.  Too say the least, it was a very disappointing meeting.  Most of us that live here and see what is going on day by day out there and we know that the bite was tremendous over this winter.  And alot of us present had questions about why it was so good.  Was there and abundance of Walleyes, (more than the MN DNR fall assessment nets last fall showed)?, or is because of the problems with the lower part of the food chain causing a “baitfish” problem and everything out there is hungry?  Most of us here already knew the answer was a “baitfish”problem. Our concerns were that the 2013 year class they are trying to protect will start the “cannibalizing”  of there own this spring and in the next couple years because of it, then we will be right back where we started 5 years ago.  Lake residents don’t see lake shiners under the docks in the spring like we used to. The Perch population of “keepers”, (10″ to 13″) Perch has been dropping consistently over the last 5-10 years, and the growing abundance of Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass could be another emerging predator.

Believe it or not this has been happening for a long time….and now they notice? The MN DNR stance is because of “their agreement” with the Bands they need to protect for future spawning Walleyes. And meanwhile they have overlooked what has been happening here for years thru “treaty management” once again..  In my opinion there are too many fish in the “fishbowl” than food for them to eat. But no one will look ahead…Because of “politics” once again…..the resource and fishermen of Minnesota will pay the consequences… A changing fishery cannot wait for “politics”..

I agree with the DNR that the introduction of “spiney water fleas”, “zebra mussels” and the natural change of of “cleaner water” due to sewer system improvements around the lake in the 1980’s  is changing the dynamics of Mille Lacs. But our MN DNR knew about that years ago, especially “zebra mussels”.  On top of that, the abusive spring harvest of Walleye, Northern and Perch by the Bands, ( They can because of a court ruling allowing rights of an outdated 180 year old treaty, added to the decline whether you want to agree with it or not.) If more people had actually been here at Mille Lacs and actually seen what was happening back then they would understand why some feel the way they do about it.  If 3250 – 100 ft gill nets along the shores of Mille Lacs in 2011 and didn’t affect the reproduction of the Walleye I guess nothing will?

Now we are in a situation where “here we are… what are “we” going to do to about it”. After last Friday’s meeting it’s obvious to me that the “who’s the good guy and let’s play politics behind the scenes” part of this is surfacing.  All at the cost of Minnesota’s citizen’s expense. Meanwhile taking down the resort owners that have provided a way for the people of Minnesota to enjoy this lake for over 100 years. Of course, it’s all in the “protection” of a resource is what you will read in the papers, meanwhile behind the scenes (where most media doesn’t go), the story is totally opposite. Plus we have a Governor that doesn’t even care enough to see what is happening to the State of Minnesota and it’s tourism industry. All it seems he is worried about is his “budget surplus” and how it will look good for him when he leaves..

And sadly it’s not just about Mille lacs anymore….if you don’t believe me…research it…you’ll find that the Bands want to have off reservation harvest rights all the way to the Canadian border and are planning to go to court with it soon. If Governor Dayton and your Legislature representatives don’t get some “balls” and do something soon it will be all over with.  Time to wake up people…

Keep a Tight Line!!    Eddy