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Dances with Walleye

Any News on The Ice Fishing Regs?

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Dances with Walleye

I heard from my buddy's Co-worker that the new ML Ice Fishing regs were posted, and that it was 4 fish 22" and under... Which doesn't sound right at all...

Rather than take 4th hand information, I went looking and I can find nothing about the Ice fishing Regs after 11/30/07... Any body have any info in any direction... Or was this guy just giving me a 3rd hand 80 proof story?

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minnesotatuff

here's another rumor i heard that i have no idea about. my fishing buddy said he heard something about portables not having to be licensed anymore? i cant beleive that! less taxes? i seriously doubt it.

regards,

minnesotatuff

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Kyle Sandberg

It's true about the portables not neading liscens. Raised out of state fees make up for that. Don't know about the slot for winter yet. Right now its still 4 fish between 14-16

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irishjigs

I agree with K Dawg...no shelter licenses are needed this year. That was passed in the last session. Also with the walleye regulations...it is still 14"-16" slot, which means you can keep fish over 14" but under 16" all others must be released with the exception of one over 28" as part of your four fish limit. No word yet on if they will go back to the 0"-20" keeper range for winter. If I remember correctly, they set yearly protection slots beginning December 1, 2007 for the 2007 winter season and the 2008 open water season. Mr. Fellegy might be able to talk more to this. Thanks!

jigs.

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Reynolds

I found this article in the Mille Lacs Messenger last week regarding the slot limit for the upcoming ice fishing season

Input group wants to leave slot alone

Gillnet numbers lowest in decades

by Vivian Clark

Messenger Staff Writer

Rick Bruesewitz

The Mille Lacs Lake Fisheries Input Group voted unanimously in favor of the 20- to 28-inch protected slot for the winter season beginning Dec. 1. One fish over 28 inches and the four-fish total bag limit would remain the same.

Representatives of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources met with the input group Monday, Oct. 8. The recommendation was forwarded to Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner, for approval. A decision is expected sometime during the week of Oct. 15.

Discussions circled around creel surveys, hooking mortality and fall net surveys.

"We were surprised by the fall net survey," DNR fisheries chief Ron Payer said. "The netting numbers are down."

Graphics provided by the DNR indicate the gill net surveys are the lowest they have been since 1983.

Inshore nets have averaged 7.2 fish per net, compared with an average of 15 fish per net since 1983, according to fisheries specialist Eric Jensen.

Offshore net surveys this year resulted in 17.4 fish per net, compared to an average of 22.6 fish since offshore netting began in 1998.

"Right now, we need to be cautious," Bruesewitz said. "These numbers are preliminary. We wanted to share the data with you now so no one is blindsided by it later."

The low net survey results will likely lead to the removal of "allowable overage" under 1837 Treaty management.

When survey numbers are high, the state angler harvest can exceed the allocation. When the numbers are low, they can't. This year, they're low, resulting in "condition 3" - no allowable overage. (See chart, page 3.) That means if the harvest hits the allocation, walleye can no longer be targeted.

The goal is to keep that from happening.

"No matter what happens with the rest of the fall numbers, we are in condition 3 and we are stuck with that," Bruesewitz said.

Conditions were set through a mediation process. "The court said we had to have an overage plan. It's not perfect, but it is the best information we have," Payer said.

The safe harvest level for 2008 will be set in January. Next season's regulation will not be discussed until after that level is set.

Regardless of the net surveys, the safe harvest level would have dropped for 2008 because of the poor 2004 walleye year class (the population of walleyes that hatched in 2004).

The fishery input group will meet with the DNR again in February to discuss proposed slot limits for the 2008 open water season and send the recommendations to the DNR commissioner for approval.

Results scrutinized

Input group members questioned the reliability of the net surveys. Steve Johnson suggested the surveys be re-done this year because the numbers were far below the totals for last year.

"It is a fluid process, but you have to keep evolving when you see anomalies in the conditions," Johnson said.

Bruesewitz said the system is not perfect, but it is the best they have. The surveys are done at the same time every year. The DNR uses GPS readings in an attempt to place the nets in the same place every year. Every attempt is made to be in the same depth of water in the same general area.

"We try to replicate the sampling," Bruesewitz said. "We can't put the nets out again two weeks after we just finished the surveys just to get the numbers you want."

The fall net surveys have an impact on calculating the total safe harvest level for the following year, but they are not the only factor. Electrofishing surveys contribute to a population estimate, and creel census results are figured in as well. The whole batch of numbers is sent through a computer modeling program that treaty biologist Patrick Schmalz calls "state-of-the-art" in estimating the population of a fishery.

The computer modeling "smooths out" the jagged line of the gillnet surveys, treaty biologist Pat Schmalz said.

In years past, the allocation was not as high as the gillnet surveys may have indicated, and this year the allocation will probably not be as low as it may appear from the gillnet survey results.

Input group members were told there is a good distribution of most year classes.

The 2004 class remains weak, but the 2005 class is looking good and will provide for a future fishery. The 2006 year class is less abundant than expected. DNR biologists theorize that they "got eaten," Bruesewitz said. "It's just a theory, but there are a lot of big fish out there. Bigger fish are hungrier."

The spawning biomass for 2007 is still looking good and is above the condition 1 threshold, but the gillnet survey results were so low that condition 3 will still prevail.

Hooking mortality

"High (water) temps and a big bite result in higher hooking mortality, that is for sure," Bruesewitz said. Nearly 25 percent of the harvest through July was the result of hooking mortality.

The input group members were surprised by the report of hooking mortality. Tina Chapman asked, "If the numbers were so high, how come we didn't see any floating fish?"

"They don't all float," Bruesewitz said. The numbers are determined from creel surveys and from the hooking mortality study methods, he added. Reports of floating fish from shore-land owners and observations of DNR crews on the water are corroborating factors.

Keith Reeves has done a comprehensive hooking mortality study - the most (Contact Us Please) study on any lake in Minnesota, Bruesewitz said.

Using his methods, roughly 100,000 pounds of the harvest were attributed to hooking mortality. Reporting the total kill is required under the plan agreed to by the state and the tribes under 1837 Treaty management, according to Payer.

Tullibees down

Tullibee catches were down from 0.31 fish per net in 2006 to 0.28 for this season in inshore nets. The offshore nets reflect a similar decline from 3.7 fish per net to 2.5 this fall.

The declining population of tullibees is a bit worrisome, Bruesewitz said. Tullibees are food for the bigger walleyes.

"The lack of tullibees in the lake is also creating cannibalism in the walleye population," he said.

The lack of tullibees is directly related to the warmer water temperatures, Bruesewitz added.

The DNR said last week there will be no tullibee netting on Mille Lacs.

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