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Tullibee

Late Ice Basswood Pike!?!?!?

81 posts in this topic

Anyone take a look at the 2008 fishing regulations and how they state that Basswood is now considered an inland water. This is a HUGE BUMMER for me and my buddies who have made it in there nearly every year for the last 5 or so years to wrestle with some trophy pike at late ice. I am at a loss as to why the DNR made this decision and wondering if anyone on here can give me some insight on why.

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I couldn't agree more. I also am wondering why this regulation was changed. I knew it was on the list for possible rule changes and obviously it went through. I know the DNR is looking to improve some waters in the state to "Trophy Muskie and Northern" fisheries, but this one already is a trophy northern fishery. If they wanted to make a change why not establish a more strict slot limit or make it a one fish over 45" limit. I believe most people are not making the trek in there to catch and keep fish, rather they are looking for that true trophy sized pike that are already there.

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BUMMER is right! I've fished Basswood at late ice (after inland waters close) with great success for pike (catch and release) and it has become a tradition among my friends and I. I've also tried Basswood earlier in the season and the bite is just not the same to say the least. Well, there goes a great opportunity for everyone who was willing to make the trek into the lake. As the lake is already a trophy fishery with MINIMAL fishing pressure I really question the DNR's decision to shorten the season as an effort to improve the fishery. In my opinion, the DNR has simply taken away the best opportunity fishermen had of catching a trophy in an effort to establish a trophy pike fishery. Very disappointing.

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First of all, welcome to Mimic Shiner and LindyRigga. Great to have you here on HSO/FM! grin.gifgrin.gif

I agree that this is a difficult loss to swallow. I had not made the late ice Basswood pilgrimage yet since moving up here, but as a pike chaser it was on my must-do list.

Too late now, I guess, so I'll head over to LOW when I can rather than have this semi-wilderness experience here, and that means the LOW economy will benefit, not the Ely economy. Ely mushers can't be very happy about this either, since dogsledding is a prime winter travel option into Basswood.

On the face of things, a more aggressive slot or C&R regulation is a great idea. I will add that enforcement up there is quite a bit tougher than it is on more accessible waters.

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Good points guys, I was also thinking about the mushers and how they are going to be missing out on some money this spring.

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Good points guys, I was also thinking about the mushers and how they are going to be missing out on some money this spring. Keep the opinions coming people.

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I've never been on Basswood that early in the year, but could it be because many of the huge pike are in pre spawn/spawning mode. So the DNR wants them off limits until they've had a chance to do their thing. Not taking any sides on the issue just adding a could it be.

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smallmouthguide, I would have to agree with you that the pike are in pre-spawn mode that time of year, but i'm wondering why the DNR picked basswood to close with the rest of the inland waters. There are much more accessible border waters such as Rainy or Lake of the Woods that are just as succeptible to damage to the trophy pike community. I work in the natural resource management field so I understand the need for conservation and management of fragile areas as well as anyone, i'm just trying to get some more info on the situation at hand here and see how many others feel the same is all. I think I will try to contact the Tower DNR to get some more info.

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closed due to political pressure from special interest environmental groups. They don'twantyou in the bwcaw

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Yukon,

I was actually thinking of the same scenario. If this were due to any influence from environmental groups you'll probably never find out. I'm sure that those groups to some extent have infiltrated the ranks of the DNR and Forrest Service. They will always keep chipping away inch by inch to have their way.

Tullibee,

Hopefully you'll be able to find some answers. Years ago down in the area I fish the local DNR marine biologist changed the Northern Pike regulations on the lake I guide on. None of the other lakes in that county were changed because this was HIS pet project lake. Now the lake is overrun with hammer handles that mess up the schooling walleye and smallmouth fishing when the wolf packs cruse in.

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Definately could be political, as are most DNR moves.

Read today in the Duluth News Tribune Outdoor Section that the DNR is looking at making another 22 (???) trophy Musky and Pike lakes in the state.

This must be the start of it as they didn't (as of yet) do anything to the Walleye season on Basswood and the April 14th closing that is common on all Minnesota/Canadian border lakes.

Time will tell.

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Well guys I'm glad that someone posted about this. Being from central mn I didn't want to start this. Although I have only fished the late season for the past 2 years it is the most wonderful experience, plus great fishing. As most probably do we hired a guide and fished for 3 days each year. we averaged between 15-30 fish per day and never killed a fish(including my personal best 41 1/4) and this guide hand mentioned over the past 10 years or so his clients my have killed 5 fish over that span. After last years trip we signed a petion against this change, and I also submitted a comment to the DNR during this proposal period, it abviously didn't help. The statment that was given as to why this change was need is that the (new) CO's hard to hard of a time patrolling basswood and inturn couldn't enforce the laws (geez can't drive a machine, can't enforce).

We would see maybe 4 other dogsled teams a day come and go, most I'am sure where not fishing as their return was soon. So who do you have to enforce, a few local guides and hand ful of locals, those few (locals)would have to alot damage (not likely) to hurt this fishery (assuming clients of other guides are similar to our guides). If one would read the comment on the DNR website as to the status of the fishery it is written that the northern pike population and size structure has stayed remarkably unchanged over all the years of testing, no biological reason what so ever for this change. sorry for the ramble but this rare opportunty has been taken away for no good reason!!

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Thanks, Anyfish. That's some good perspective about big pike catch and release numbers over the years.

It's not just new COs who have had a hard time getting into Basswood to do enforcement. It's been going on awhile. I know one CO who drove a sled in there to do winter enforcement and met some Forest Service fellas on the way out and they had a little exchange of words. CO said he had the right to use motors to patrol waters within his jurisdiction. F.S. guys said the no-motor rule applies to everyone.

I've also been told by two COs that they get miffed when the F.S. folks do license checks or enforcement on BWCAW waters, because they say it's the law that the DNR, not the federal government, has jurisdiction over management and enforcement on all waterways in the state.

I'm not positive of all the ins and outs of that and have only talked to one F.S. fellow about it. He dodged the question.

I know I've been checked twice by F.S. folks when I've been fishing in the wilderness.

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I think people are missing the point here, this should not be a decision that is based on how well they can enforce the rules. I understand that there is always a few bad apples that ruin it for everyone by keeping too many fish or fishing with too many lines etc. and these are usually not the type of folks who are going to hike, ski, or dogsled 5+ miles to catch some pike. As Anyfish said there is no BIOLOGICAL reason why this new rule should be in place. Basswood is a legitimate trophy pike fishery as well as many other species and always will be without a drastic change. A handfull of anglers a year is not going to hurt it.

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Tullibee, I agree 100 percent. Difficulty in enforcement is not a reason to change the regs, and I hope my comments didn't sound like I'm in favor of that. Simply adding a little info to the discussion.

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 Originally Posted By: stfcatfish
It's not just new COs who have had a hard time getting into Basswood to do enforcement. It's been going on awhile. I know one CO who drove a sled in there to do winter enforcement and met some Forest Service fellas on the way out and they had a little exchange of words. CO said he had the right to use motors to patrol waters within his jurisdiction. F.S. guys said the no-motor rule applies to everyone.

From the BWCAW act.

(i) Except for motorboats, snowmobiles, and mechanized portaging, as authorized and defined herein, no other motorized use of the wilderness shall be permitted. Nothing in this Act shall prohibit the use of aircraft, motorboats, snowmobiles, or other mechanized uses in emergencies, or for the administration of the wilderness area by Federal, State, and local governmental officials or their deputies, only where the Secretary finds that such use is essential.

The CO doesn't have the right to use any motors in the BWCAW. It is allowable at the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture, which essentially gets deligated to the Forest Service, but definitely isn't a right.

I know that this wasn't the original intent of this thread but I just wanted to provide a little background information.

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Well thats a kick in the nuts for closing the late season...I really don't understand especially when other more accessible lakes such as Rainy, LOTW, Crane, Namakan, and Kab are still open this time of year. It is like Yukon said it is work of some environmentalist group that wanted the change, just like I've heard about a walleye slot limit trying to be imposed on Basswood as well! What I also don't understand is if this is such a great Northern pike factory why is there a 24-36" slot on it now? With the limited number of people that can even access the lake or many of the areas of it in the winter and even in the summer, that should be even enough reason not to have a slot limit, because you have already limited one factor that ruins alot of lakes in this state and that is fishing pressure.

Also now I am wondering if Basswood is "considered" inland lake now and inland rules apply...does this apply for walleye? So does the 1 over 20 rule now apply? AND if the legislature passes a STATEWIDE slot limit rule, would this apply to Basswood?

I like the quote that my buddy's dad told me (whom is from Ely), "I won't be able to see it in my lifetime but you will in yours, when all of Basswood will be paddle only, and no motors will be aloud there."

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So what now??? If it is true that this rule has been changed mainly because of enforcement reasons and the difficulty to access it by wardens do we foresee a complete closure of the BWCA to fishing, deer hunting, grouse hunting, moose hunting, etc... in the future because it's too difficult to enforce in a wilderness area. I don't know if I completely believe it is enforcement issues but it certainly could play a role.

Also as far as FS employees being able to enforce laws, they have absolutely no jurisdiction on state game laws. Legally they cannot check licenses, limits, lines, etc. however if they see someone breaking the law there is nothing that says they can't radio in that there is an infraction taking place and if the state would like to act upon it, it is then up to them.

Lastly, I'm guessing there are a few DNR employees that have access to this site and if they were so inclined, could they please respond so we could hear some answers directly from the horses mouth instead of continuously wondering as to what the true answer (Biological, Enforcement issues, or another reason?) is and possibly some reasoning that lead them to making this law change.

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As to the question if Basswood is now considered "inland waters" according to the DNR news release about a month back it stated that all of Basswood, including border portions, are now under inland regulations. Fishing season closes Feb 24th 2008. I assume that includes the closure Walleye and other inland game fish. I believe Lake trout season stays the same as all BWCAW Waters.

I'm sorry for sturring the pot on the enforcment issue but as it was explained to me by my guide and a local outfitter in Ely, that is the main issue that was brought up in the public meeting in Tower last winter, as why this was part of the lakes managment plan.

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Bluegill 1510

I haven't read anything that makes Basswood an entirely Inland lake, only that the Pike season closes Feb. 24th.

If the April 14th Walleye season remains, the no size limit should also remain.

This (and the former continuous Pike) are not included in Pipestone Bay, Jackfish Bay, Back Bay, or Hoist Bay.

These bays have always been considered inland waters.

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Great outdoors is right(just checked 2008 reg book) this change was only regarding Northern Pike. The border portions are still considered border water for all other species(sizes & limits).

Sorry for the bad info and thanks G.O. for the correction.

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So now that I am completely confused, could someone help me out with one question......and I know it may be a stupid one to some of you, but can I fish for walleyes up to April 14th on the portion of Basswood that is out of the BWCA.....and can I use a snowmobile for travel as long as I am not over the border of the wilderness area?? Thanks for any clarification. I just don't want to be doing anything illegal. grin.gif

GoggleEye

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I believe the new regulation is only for Northerns so you should be able to still fish for walleyes up until april 14th. to answer the 2nd question there is no portion of Basswood outside of the BWCA. so the snowmobile thing is off limits for all of Basswood. This brings up another point. If they are only changing the season on pike, and the only justification I have heard for the change so far is enforcement, then why is it easier to enforce the other species during that time of year on this remote lake and not on pike? I am going after the root of it today on the phone with the Tower DNR fisheries guys. Thanks for all the replies and insight on this topic. I will post whatever the Tower folks tell me on here later.

Cory

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Thanks for your work, Cory. As someone who used to make two or three trips to Wind Bay, Rice Bay or Frog Bay every spring, I'd like to know why the change as well. I haven't gone up as much the last few years but still am curious. A couple of possible factors:

More usage. Up until 12 or 15 years ago, would have most of the lake to ourselves that time of year. The last couple of times to Wind Bay, it looked more like Mille Lacs. Saw over 30 people there one day.

Also, as to only northerns. I don't know of ANYONE who went up before ice out to fish walleyes. I know (especially near Beaver Island) that an occasional walleye would come through the hole but they were caught by people fishing for lake trout or northerns. Also, very little lake trout water on the U.S. side of Basswood. Bayley Bay is the only place I know of where people actually traveled to fish them (not taking into account some who took midnight rides to U.S. Point). I did catch a 16 pound laker in Inlet Bay just down from Prairie Portage one spring fishing for northerns. Unfortunately it was after laker season on the U.S. side and after a photo, released it.

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finnbay, nice to hear some more history on the whole spring Basswood deal. The added fishing pressure could very well be a major factor in their decision.

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