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Entries in Mille Lacs Lake (3)


Minnesota DNR Sacrifices Smallmouth Bass to Help Mille Lacs Walleye Fishery

Smallmouth bass are being thrown under the fisheries-management bus at Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs.  Ostensibly, the move is to help rebuild the walleye fishery, but the regulation change has many anglers shaking their heads in disbelief and organizing to oppose the move via a petition drive.

In 2012, anglers were allowed to keep only one smallmouth bass of at least 21 inches. This year, the limit is 6, with one of more than 20 inches, while the rest must be less than 17.

Conversely, last year anglers could keep up to four walleye shorter than 17 inches, with one longer than 28 inches allowed. Now, they can keep only two between 18 and 20 inches or one in the slot and one longer than 28 inches.

“The smallmouth bass and northern pike regulations are designed to protect smaller walleye until we have better information on what these predator species are eating,” said Dirk Peterson, fisheries chief for the Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ll be starting a predator diet study this spring. Meanwhile, the regulations will allow anglers some additional non-walleye harvest opportunities while also retaining solid numbers of trophy-sized fish.”

But critics counter that increased harvest will damage the world-class smallmouth fishery.

Some also point out that the state isn’t addressing the real problem, netting of walleye by Native Americans.

“Meanwhile, the eight bands of Chippewa who net Mille Lacs during the spring spawn have given no indication they will change the mesh size of their nets, which tend to target walleyes 18 inches and smaller, the same fish sport anglers are trying to protect,” said Dennis Anderson in the Star Tribune newspaper.

And at the Outdoor Hub, angler Rodney Peterson added, “The walleye decline started when the bands started to net spawning fish.

“I remember catching a 6-fish limit in a couple hours as a young adult in the late ‘80s. Last year, we had trouble catching a single fish in the slot. The problem should be obvious, even for the incredibly myopic DNR and tribal fisheries.

“Stop netting the fish during the spawn. It would be the same as a farmer butchering his cows before they have their calves and wondering why his herd was dwindling. Seriously, is it that difficult to figure out? Short-sighted greed is running the fishery, not conservation.”


Conservation Groups Push to Protect Minnesota Fisheries from Asian Carp

The effort to keep Asian carp out of Minnesota lakes is heating up, in the wake of the discovery of silver carp DNA as far upriver as Coon Rapids on the Mississippi River.

The Star Tribune reports that a coalition of conservation groups wants officials to permanently close the Mississippi River lock at the Twin Cities Ford Dam, in hopes of better protecting Mille Lacs and other fisheries. Should silver and bighead carp become established above the Twin Cities, they then could push into tributaries leading to popular recreation lakes.

The Star Tribune says this:

“When the Mississippi's chain of lock and dams closes for the winter, on Dec. 5, the one at the Ford dam should stay closed after ice-out until state and federal authorities adopt some long-term carp prevention strategy, the advocates said this week.

“The coalition will present its plan at Gov. Mark Dayton's next carp summit Dec. 20. It calls for short-term priorities to be enacted this winter, mid-term priorities to be completed over the next six to 18 months and long-term priorities for over 18 months.”


Asian Carp Could Be on Way to Mille Lacs Lake, Other Minnesota Fisheries

Asian carp DNA has been found above a key barrier on the Mississippi River in Minnesota. The good news is that no live fish have been found.

But if the exotic species are above Coon Rapids Dam, they could move into the Crow and Rum River systems and possibly even into Mille Lacs Lake.

“We believe that the risk is just too high to not assume that there are live fish upstream,” said Tim Schlagenhaft, Mississippi River manager for the Department of Natural Resources. “Consequently, we need to move forward.”

Read more here.

And in related news:

A federal report showing that cargo traffic on Chicago-area waterways has been flat or declining for 15 years was quickly embraced by those who support closing locks or installing barriers to keep invasive species like the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Michigan officials, who have joined other states in a lawsuit to have some Chicago-area locks closed, pointed to the findings as evidence that the Great Lakes shipping industry would not be dramatically affected if barriers were erected.

"Those findings are in agreement with the study that we commissioned two years ago that found that canal traffic was not only declining but was a far less than significant portion of the Chicago economy," said John Sellek, a spokesman for the Michigan attorney general's office.