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Rick

DNR meeting to discuss status of Fish Lake Reservoir

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Rick

DULUTH MN - A public information meeting on the status of Fish Lake Reservoir north of Duluth will take place Aug. 15 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The meeting will be at the Environmental Protection Agency office, 6201 Congdon Blvd., one block past the Lester River on Highway 61.

The 2010 fish population assessment will be presented along with information regarding other potential factors that might impact fish populations, including historical water levels, nutrient loading, aquatic vegetation and growing season conditions.

Over the past 10-20 years, changes appear to be taking place in fish populations in the Fish Lake Reservoir. The DNR will present several ideas on the relationship between fish populations and habitat quality in the Fish Lake Reservoir, including plans over the next 18 months to better understand these relationships and potential future management actions.

The DNR is committed to looking comprehensively at trends impacting fish habitat and fish populations for northeastern lakes, including the Fish Lake Reservoir. Understanding these trends and identifying stakeholder goals and objectives for lakes are both necessary for choosing realistic and feasible management options, according to the DNR.

The DNR is also looking for volunteers to serve on a committee that will meet several times over the next 15 months to provide input on future goals and objectives for fish populations in the Fish Lake Reservoir. People interested in serving on the committee, but who are unable to attend the meeting, should contact Deserae Hendrickson, Duluth area fisheries, 218-525-0853, ext. 201.

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Jarrid Houston

I will be there!

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Northlander

Bring your waders! grin

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Jarrid Houston

hahaha-Just going to soak it up like a sponge. I do agree that the eye population is in big trouble. Anytime I catch a fish it is a small one! I think that this lake gets blasted with peeps keeping to many fish in the winter...or Im just a greedy fisherment! LOL Just gonna take notes and listen

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Northlander

Its amazing that Fish Lake has any fish of any sort in it after the past 10-15 winters. Its so close to town and easy to get out on, tons of folks hit it and keep all the fish they can. I cant believe the numbers of crappies and gills in there even with this pressure. No wonder how the walleye numbers have gone down.

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Jack Stasney

Good point Northlander, I think some special regs on panfish might be an option. Still it won't stop people who are taking over their limits, and in fact may just mean more fish for them. Are there cases where a reduced panfish limit has worked?

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Northlander

I would be fine with a 5 gill and 5 crappie or 10 panfish total limit along with a 4 walleye. The old timers and poachers wont like it but too bad.

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reinhard1

i think that would be a great idea. good luck.

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scott b

Old timers aren't the only ones who are down for a pan fish fish fry. grin

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Down Deep

I remember the bonanza years of the fall crappie bite. If the there had been a 5 fish limit that may have helped create a sustained fishery. I agree with the 5 + 5 or combo of 10 panfish limit. I also wish the DNR would include Rice, Island and Whiteface in any special regulations. It would be nice to have some inland lakes around Duluth where a 18 inch fish was considered a trophy.

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Northlander

DNR is still in denial that Island Lake needs help. crazy

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reinhard1

perhapst stocking walleys that are not the genetic breed that is in there now. i dont mind catching eaters and yes there are some in island that grow bigger. but as a rule as the dnr has stated, the walleys in island are slow growing. they also said tullibees would not make a difference because of their strain. is it true? that's what they say. so perhapst an effort of a different strain may make the difference. good luck.

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Northlander

Im no biologist but I do know a lake that size with all its beautiful structure should have more big walleyes. They are managing it for Muskies they should do the same for the eyes.

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reinhard1

island lake is about 8,000 acres with depth down to 94 feet. the only time since 1970 that walleys have been stocked was once in 1985. i just got done talking with two seperate dnr people on the lake. i know we had a talk about this awhile back. one thing is for certain, island has a good population of walleys. while most seem to catch eaters, larger walleys are present. dnr employees has seen quite a few of them during muskie surveys.

as far as catching these larger walleys, it is my opinion that the lake is so large and these larger walleys are more dispursed so the likleyhood of getting one is slimmer than on smaller bodies of water. i think sometimes anglers just get frustrated in not tying into one of the larger ones and think at that point it has something to do with the lake itself.

count me in as one of those frustrated anglers at times, although i am happy to go somewhere and get eaters if i want some for a meal. there are so many lakes and [st. louis river for example] that opportunities for larger walleys do exist. i always tell my brother that he is truly in fishing heaven there.

as far as baitfish in island lake, it has a lot of forage especialy a large poppulation of trout perch according to the dnr. they have seen in their studies that the walleye in island grow very slowly up to about 16 inches and then the growth rate seems to be quicker. they seem to think it is then where trout perch come into play and forage on them more consistantly. as for introducing tullibees as a forage fish on island lake the dnr frowns upon doing this. there would be no guarentee that they would reproduce there, the cost would be very high, and to stock a lake like island with them it would take millions to do the job correctly, plus there would be no place to even get enough of tullibees regardless.

regarding stocking of a different strain of walleys, again this is something the dnr frowns upon as well because it would upset the genetic integrity of the reseviour itself. i told the dnr person that i was happy with island lake the way it is even if i had these concernes at one time regarding slow growth. sometimes it's best to talk to those who manage these lakes to get information from them. the dnr lacks revenue right now. i would hope to encourage all to talk to their reps to raise licence fees so lakes and rivers can be managed as well as possible. good luck.

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Jarrid Houston

Nice write up and like the insights! It will be an interesting meeting

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Northlander

If they were truly worried about the "balance" of the lake or whatever I doubt introducing muskies into the lake helped then. I dont buy the fisherman get frustrated and dont get as many big fish because they are spread out. I would like to think Im a above average fisherman and I dont catch many big fish up there. I fish all over the place in different manners and I might get a few fish over 20" a year. I think its the lake, it cant be me and all the other real good fisherman I know that struggle up there can it? confused

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reinhard1

Steve, i think you and others are good fishermen, i dont think there is any doubt about that. i think you have to consider the size of the lake and consider there are more smaller walleys than big ones. my brother has not gotten a walley more than 5 pounds out of there and he is a good fisherman believe me. cant go by me for i fish boulder and rice more than island, but i as you haven't had a big walley to take a pic of and release from island.

one thing is interesting, and that is why walleys dont gain the extra size until they reach 16 inches. prior to that they have the slowest growth rates in the area. so what i gather from the dnr information is that the supply of small bait fish dont last long because of the abundance of smaller walleys. so larger forage is not eaten until the 16 inch mark and above.

so the abundance of trout perch will be a factor once the lake gets older. this lake is realy a younger lake so to speak. so as island lake ages the supply of minnows will also increase. this will result in a more balanced size structure of walley's in island. i think it would be a good idea for fishermen to contact the duluth fisheries and express their concerns and listen to what the reseviour specialist have to say. they have the experience and knowledge and are willing to engage in a conversation. other than that i probably have to make a special trip up there to show everyone how to get a big walley cool. good luck.

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Northlander

All I got on Island today was WET! Man did that rain and hail come down hard. We only were able to fish a hour or so. The ride back to the landing was not fun! I have caught 2 BIG fish in Island my whole life. By BIG I mean over 27". Im hoping to change that at the hawg walleye hunt the 20th and 21st. I could use the $1000 for 1st.

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Surface Tension

I think it could name any lake in MN and there will be a percentage of fisherman that struggle on it.

I don't see that as a reason to change the regs.

Fish lake cycles, it always has.

When one species is down there is a strong presence of another.

I'd expect spawning conditions has much to do with it.

Water levels coming into spawn and changing levels during and after. Water temps(favorable during and after spawn).

Longer periods of ice has a lot to do with fry die off as well. Lake draw down in winter can't help either.

Fish lake levels are a little more consistent then Island Lake and you can't ignore the drastic change in those levels all season long as part of that cycle.

Spring spawning time on Island with low water levels cuts off the whole Cloquet River(spawning grounds).

Yep eyes spawn on shorelines but when you have eyes congregated at a dead end(falls) trying to find a way up river they aren't going to spawn on a shoreline.

With the above your going to have a bust and boom years and that has proven itself over and over on both lakes.

Since the issue has been pressed, lets not overlook look water quality.

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reinhard1

i think what you describe in your post is very true. i fish a lake within 40 miles or so of island, and have fished it for over 30 years. it's a small lake and has always produce some great fishing for me. i think most of us are good fishermen and use a variety of methods and learn to have our "favorit" spots over the years on lakes we fish most often.

on this particular lake [i fish it mainly in the fall] i have had years where i caught mostly walleys and few crappies, however the crappies were large in the 12 inch range. then i would go for sometimes 2 years where i catch more crappies than walleys. the walleys must have a fast growth rate for i have cought one over 7 pounds every year i go there with my largest being 9 pounds out of there. all are still swimming.

i fish only two spots on this lake, and never have explored the other parts for i usualy only go there for one day and its 186 miles one way for me so i hit those two spots only. i use the same bait/jigs and only that particular jig/minnow combination for crappies and walleys. so i have seen fluctuations as well over 30 years. some years more average size crappies, then at times larger ones. this lake is not stocked and very seldom fished, so like you said i thing we all see changes. good luck.

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Northlander

I talked to a couple professors at the landing last night who were doing a study on Algae and other stuff that makes them smarter than me. wink They said the type og Algae they were finding on Island said to them that Island has a very good water quality. They also found some things they had never seen before. One they showed me looked like a round clear sack with small green egg looking things in the center. Neither knew what it was. I will say it was very cool looking.

On another note I tried cutting the grass yesterday only to get rained and hailed on and it looks so wet I wont be able to cut it for at least 4 days. Thats if we don't get any more rain.

The St. Louis River and parts of Lake Superior around Duluth/Superior will be a mess for weeks.

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Jarrid Houston

Thought that Sherpa would have posted on this subject already. He took good notes. Anyway in a nut shell - Walleyes are on the decline (fast), crappies, blue gillz, and bucket are on the rise. Warmer weather, high vegetation, water level coud contribute to this because of decrease in walleye spawning grounds. They (the DNR) dont think that angling really pulls weight on this, but in my opinion it couldnt hurt to adjust some regs...? Anyway, they are going to be putting together a goup of people (i.e. business owners, lake shore owners, travelers, alike) together (about 12 people). to conduct further meetings and get input to come to some conclusions to the hypotheseese they have come up with. they say it will be about 15 months worth of work.

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reinhard1

hopefully they figure it out. i see by the last survey [2010] part of the blame of the decline is on the increase in largemouth and gills. perhapst stocking will come in play, since fish hasn't been stocked in many years along with the other resevours. however stocking a lake of this size is very expensive, and with the dnr in a budget crunch it will be a tough call to make. good luck.

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Sherpa

A couple notes I took from the meeting.

- The population of walleye over 17" is actually stable.

- Walleye under 17" have decreased significantly.

- Bass numbers are way up. Size up as well.

- pike and perch pop. at normal levels though slightly declined.

- Increased vegetation in DNR sampling areas may have affected their results.

- Spring water levels are important for walleye reproduction. Low water levels affect shoreline spawning areas. 2007 had a gate malfuction resulting in low water levels all year including spring.

- The increase in in avg. Water temps is good for bass and panfish. Bad for walleye.

- phosphorus levels and water clarity are stable.

- maximum depth of vegetation growth is up .7 feet.

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Northlander

And the fishing pressure gets greater and greater every year. I love it when they say they dont think angling pressure is effecting Fish Lake. crazy

Like many bodies of water in our area I see more and more weed growth. I think some of that weed growth has choked out some good spawning grounds on Fish Lake.

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