It has been a long time since I’ve post on the blog/report. It was a busy summer up here with a lot of changes in the fishery, the focus on Small-mouth Bass, the frustration with the fishing regulations to help the “recovery” of the Walleye, dealing with keeping a business going that revolves around the lake and it’s fishery, and talking to everyone that walked into the door at my marine business I own and trying to keep afloat… All in all there has not been much time to reflect on it like I do every nite when I’m home in the winter. (Days are shorter then… 🙂 ).
A highlight of the summer for me was having Seth Feider – (a bass fisherman (and great person too) that bought a Bass Cat boat from me), fished the Bass-master’s Elite Series all year and won the Bass-masters AOY Tournament at Mille lacs this past month. He was the only Minnesotan that fished the series and with his boat with Lyback’s Marine on it was pretty cool to see for me. The show about the Mille Lacs tournament will be on ESPN, Sunday, October 16th and again sometime in November.
Last night we had the “October” Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee meeting which we talked about the possibility of harvest for the upcoming winter and summer season. We talked about the effects of the Bass-masters tournament the the future impacts from bass fishermen on the lake. We talked about accomplishments of the committee and it’s future direction for the next year. And also on of the members of our committee resigned. Jamie Edwards – who was the representative for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and also one of their political lobbyists, and director of Government relations for the Band.
He attended the first two organizational meetings and to my recollection, attended one mid summer when we invited the GLIFWC representatives to our meeting so we could learn more about what they do and their view and opinion of what is going on. During that meeting the only people he talked to and communicated with during the “break” was the State of Minnesota’s elected representatives, members of GLIFWIC and MN DNR officials. There was little or no attempt converse with other members of the committee that I seen. Otherwise at almost all the other meetings his attendance was by phone connection and when ever asked about the Bands opinion the answer was always “I will have to get back to the group” , which never would happen. Obviously he was put there as an observer by the Bands and not to be an active participant of the group like the rest of us were.
In his resignation letter to the committee, he call the group a “hostile and biased” committee. He and the Mille Lacs Band “copied” Governor Dayton along with the members of our committee and DNR officials with his letter. (Apparently there is special privilege there).. Everyone on the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee encouraged the Bands presence and many times ask for more participation so we could understand more of their culture and reasons. The members concerns have always been and will always be the lake and it’s fishery. (We started that idea back in the 80’s with the Mille Lacs Lake Advisory Assn. We knew that if we did our best to preserve and protect Mille Lacs and it’s fishery, anglers would come to the lake we lived and worked on.) The 17 member committee is made up from a very diverse group of citizens. 3 county commissioners, President of the MN Bass Nation, A member of the Northern and Muskie Alliance. two guides from northern Minnesota, a DNR forage study biologist, five fishing related business around Mille Lacs, a realtor/lakeshore owner, and a retired lakeshore owner on Mille Lacs.
Another major reason in the letter of resignation was that the members of our committee felt it was “culturally offensive” that netting Walleyes during the spawning season was not good for the welfare of a fishery and it’s sustainability was stated as such. Most of us non Native Americans in Minnesota have a “culture” also after over 160 plus years of being a State, (Minnesota) of the United States of America too. I am saddened and outraged they always go to the “racist” scenario. Especially when our only concern is the recovery of a Walleye fishery that belong to all of us citizens of the State of Minnesota along with the Bands according to a treaty decision. There isn’t one person on the committee that doesn’t recognize and accept the Bands right to harvest, their “culture” and traditions. But also there isn’t one person on the committee that agrees that harvest during the spawning season is good for Mille Lacs Lake by nets. The DNR officials cannot state the same because of the “political” treaty management process they are stuck in currently. But the MN DNR’s policy has always been to protect species while they are reproducing or we would have open seasons all year long. I agree and support with our MN DNR’s statewide policies of that that have been there for over 100 years.
The saddest part of all, since the treaty decision and subsequent harvests during the spawning season for Walleyes, the Mille Lacs Lake’s fishery has been in decline and so has it’s community. And that is whether anyone “officially” wants to admit it or not, has been a contributing factor.. Most of us that have lived here all of our lives remember when we all, Mille Lacs Band members and locals got along. I used to bowl at our local bowling ally with friends from the Band, went to school as a kid and had Native American friends in my class that were truly friends. Most of that has disappeared because of this political treaty management, and not by my intent or others to keep Mille lacs and it’s fishery healthy for all. But now we are “termed” biased on this committee by the his resignation letter. I considered Jamie Edwards a friend also as he brought his boat to us to work on, he knew my sister, lived just east of where my business was and we got along well, And now because of my concerns for Mille Lacs and it’s fishery… I’m considered a “racist” by the Bands.. Those that really know me and people that know what all I’ve really worked for all these years know differently…
Keep a Tight Line!