November 1st, 2016

It is getting closer to winter even though the weather is showing it yet. Maybe another symptom of global warming. And very well could be, but I’m hoping we still have our “seasons” up here.

One of the reasons I’m posting tonite is today was a clear, no wind day on Mille Lacs and about dusk a breeze started from the northwest at dusk.  When I went out to check the wood boiler I could smell “tullibee” in the air off the lake. (this is the time when they spawn when water temps drop to the mid 40’s).  it was one of the rare things we get to experience when you live on this lake. When they come into the reefs to spawn, you can actually smell them. (And this is not the “crab farts” that Captain Phil Harris of the “Cornelia Marie” on “Deadliest Catch” joked about either….  🙂  )

It made me think about how this lake despite all the changes, ( with “political treaty management”  and the State of Minnesota’s DNR’s Fisheries division has been forced to go thru because of it.) , that if left alone for awhile it will take care of itself.

The writing on the wall so to speak, is that with no significant harvest in the spring during the Walleye spawning by the tribes, (whether by natures late ice conditions in 2013, or the minimal spring harvest because of the low harvest quotas we have endured the  last two years, both on the bands and angler’s side), Mille lacs lake is recovering. This late summer’s assessments have shown that this years,(2016 Walleye)  is almost as good as as the 2013 year class is as far as survival so far.  I applaud our DNR Fisheries division for it.  Despite how hard it has been for most of us up here.

The best part of all of this the will be now real record of how not messing with the fish when they are spawning is good for Mille Lacs Lake biologically. Despite all the talk, (and much of it true, that Mille Lacs is changing  because of invasive species, global warming, sewers around the lake being more affective), if the fish are left alone to reproduce,along with proper management, they will recover.

It is something alot of us that have lived here long thought.   Something to ponder on…  In 2011, there was 3250  gill nets set in Mille Lacs lake set on Walleye spawning grounds…and anglers regulations were set by our DNR to keep the numbers in the creel for them.  It created a big eating machine that decimated the baitfish to the point the Walleyes were “cannibalizing”  themselves.. Since the restrictions of harvest it has been minimal.  Compare it to the  the recovery of our surviving  year classes we have now.  Yes, anglers have taken a hit too with the restricted harvest.  But the biological facts will prove as this lake recovers and if managed the right way that netting during the spawning time was the major causes of Mille Lacs Lake Walleye decline….And a proper, balanced harvest of Mille Lacs Walleyes on both sides is warranted, (and should be demanded by all of us), in the future.,..   No More Nets during spawning….period!  That is something I have been fighting for 40 years since the beginnings of the Mille Lacs Lake Advisory Assn.  Maybe I can live long enough to see it end.  it is what we ALL should be about…  Wake up..

Keep a Tight Line!