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gunflint

This is a topic of great concern in my neck of the woods and I'm wondering if it's just a local issue or if it's happening on a broader scale.

Over the last several years the smallmouth bass population has exploded to the point of affecting the Walleye fishing. Needles to say a lot of people are unhappy about this. Fisherman and businesses alike are affected by this. I can find no research on the issue.

Part of the problem is catch and release. Very few anglers keep Smallies for a meal compared to walleyes. Although I've heard that our friends north of the border have adopted a catch-stab-and release philosophy I don't believe that that's an alternative that will be adopted by the Mn.DNR.

I guess that I'm looking for solution ideas. Is there a way to get the DNR to study the problem? Is this happening elsewhere in the state? Is there anything that can be done about it? Is this a cyclical issue that pops up every 20 years or so?

Although I'm more of a walleye guy, I don't mean to imply that smallies are less of a fish, it just seems like the population is getting out of control. One idea is to promote the excellent smallie fishing in the area and get more people up here fishing for them. While that may help some of the local businesses, with most people releasing them I don't believe that will do much to help the walleye fishing.

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Wade Joseph

Not sure how to get the DNR involved. I know the power of the pen usually works (e-mail these days). Otherwise I can't solve the problem, but I will certainly keep a few smallies I catch for shorelunch while I am up in Voyagers. grin.gif

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hunterlaker

That is one of the reasons we stopped going to Northern Lites lake, TOOOO many smallies, you cant even get your bait down to the walleyes without getting slammed by them, they are fun but its not what we wanted,,I have heard the same thing from other guys thaat went there too

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musky hunter

This may very well be water specific. I hope I'm completely wrong, but global warming may very well be tipping the balance of power from walleye over to bass in some waters. If the environment changes, waster temps rise and levels fall we may see such changes. Seems to me that test netting may be the only way to really survey the problem, because objective data is required to determene what is really happening. That requires DNR involvement and possibly some lobbying to get them to do so.

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83walleye

Dumbell LAke - stocked muskies - smallmouth exploded - walleyes - hard to find. Little smallies all over - catch lots of muskies while reeling little smallies in...

Fire good.

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Surface Tension

SMB in northern lakes is a Sweet & Sour deal.

Someone decided years ago it be nice to have SM Bass in northern lakes. Back then they didn't stop to think about how that would effect the native fish.

If anyone were to promote eating more SMB, bass fanatics would gasp. What has to happen first is the DNR will have to realize there is a problem, then steps can be taken, if any.

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bassman222

What is the problem? I say get rid of all the sand carp in our waters smile.gif

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JBMasterAngler

As ideal as the lakes in the grand marais area are for both species, they are better suited for smallies. One thing I want to point out about the introduction of smallies up there...walleyes aren't native to those lakes either, both species are newcomers up there. Also, I think the draught conditions and low water would be worse for the bass than it would for the walleyes. Bass spawn later in the year and if their spawning areas are left high and dry then that screws them over. Also, normally bass have a boom and bust cycle when they're introduced into a new body of water. Alot of the lakes up there have had smallies in them for less than 20 years. Normally after about a span of 5 to 10 years after an explosion they usually come down to a more managable population. I haven't noticed anything as far as bass affecting the walleye population. Of course I think I'm in the minority when I say I don't really care if the bass take over anyway...that's what I go up there to fish for anyway. Freshly caught smallies on a frying pan wins over walleye fillets anyday!!! I'll be up there in june, my mouth is already watering.

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gunflint

JB,

That's good news on two fronts. First of all if you like to eat them I wish there was a thousand more like you. Second, where did you hear about the cyclical nature of smallmouth introduction? I really would like to learn as much about this as possible. This is becoming a very sensitive issue up here. Thanks.

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Northlander

I have noticed this problem in the BWCA, Gunflints neck of the woods, Northern Lights, and even up by Armstrong. I quit going to Northern Lights because it was way out of hand. The smallies are from 3" of water to 45' of water and will hit anything that moves. Not what a guy wants when walleye fishing. I hear Sag is also getting the same way. Rainy Lake is another lake that the smallies are all over. As of now you can still catch walleyes there though.

I love to catch smallies and I keep a limit to eat every once in a while. As far as them being as tasty as walleye. Dream on they are little grease balls.

I encourage everyone to keep more bass, Northern, catfish, whitefish etc. and do I dare say Musky. blush.gif

Seems like the trout/salmon, panfish, and walleye are almost expected to get eaten while the others are expected to be cpr'd.

Oh well I just hope this terrible unbalance takes care of itself soon because if we have to wait for the DNR to hear about it and then recognize it and then act we will all be retired. grin.gif

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JBMasterAngler

I've never read an actual article on the subject of crash and boom smallmouth populations. I've only seen them in notes here and there about lakes. Although I have experienced it in the fishing world as well. Poplar lake is the best example I can think of off the top of my head. But yeah, it's not quite like what crappie populations do. I'm sure you can get some info on the subject from the DNR.

Personally I think walleyes and smallies work hand in hand, and in no way do I think smallies affect walleye populations. In fact I think they help the population. If there were no bass up there then there would be WAY more crayfish around to eat walleye eggs. There would also be more perch to compete with walleyes for food as well. Sure it's nice to catch a couple walleyes for dinner, but if you guys are argueing because you can't keep the smallies off your line, then I don't know what to say. Smallies are right up there as the funnest fish to catch, so get your eyes to put on the stringer and enjoy the "bonus" smallies you catch.

One more thing. I'm glad to hear there's alot in northern light now. I haven't fished there in a few years. The pike fishing/moose viewing was great there...now that I know there's lot's of bass I think I'll put that on my list of lakes this year.

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Northlander

If you want smallies I would say Northern Lights would be a easy bite. They are EVERYWHERE on that lake.

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UMDSportsman

Quote:

As ideal as the lakes in the grand marais area are for both species, they are better suited for smallies. One thing I want to point out about the introduction of smallies up there...walleyes aren't native to those lakes either, both species are newcomers up there.


So my question is, what are the truely native species? Is it that walleyes are native someplaces and smallies are native other places (in MN) and we have just moved them arround to be in most lakes? I don't know much about this and am kind of curious. This pertains to all species, muskie, northern, perch, sunfish, crappies, carp, drum, trout, rough fish, etc.

Just curious, haven't had time to do much reaserch.

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thistlekicker

My understanding is that smallmouth are "native" to 3 drainages in Minnesota:

Mississippi River

Lake Superior (below barrier falls)

St. Louis River

This means that most of the Arrowhead region did not have smallmouth before European settlement, as it lies either in the Rainy River drainage or the Lake Superior drainage but above barrier falls.

Walleyes were native to the Arrowhead region, but not present in every lake. For example, the DNR lake report for Little Saganaga notes that walleye are not native to that particular area. However, they were native to many other Arrowhead lakes.

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JBMasterAngler

The primary fish that were native to gunflint area lakes are northern pike, perch, lake trout, and white sucker. No walleyes or smallies. They were for the most part introduced by the railroad, who would dump milk cans full of walleye and smallie fry/fingerlings into lakes and rivers from bridges in the early 1900's. Now as for the bass that have been showing up in different lakes in the last 20 years, they've most likely been illegally "stocked" by anglers who wanted something extra to fish for.

As far as northern light goes, I mainly fished the river portion, but it's a pretty weedy lake. Not really ideal for smallies. I'll still go there with the intention to target pike, but that could make for some big smallies!

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Northlander

Im talking Northern Lights In Canada connected to Big Sag. Its not all that weedy as far as I can say. Lots of rock reefs etc.

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analyzer

I have fished the same BWCA lake every year for the past 30 years, with only one or two exceptions (We were forced to miss last year because of the cavity lake fire)...

The lake I fish is a little west of Sag, and it is interesting how the dynamics have changed back n forth over the years.

When I first started fishing the lake in the mid to late 70's, we caught numerous small mouth and didnt even know there were walleye in the lake. The small mouth were plentiful and several were caught in the 4 to 5 lb range.

Skip ahead about 10 years, there was a nice balance of SMB and walleyes. Almost all of the walleyes we caught were 2-6 lbs, most were in the 2-4lb range. We no longer caught any bass over 3 1/2, and rarely caught a walleye under 2 lbs.

Skip ahead another 10 years, we no longer caught many bass at all and most were less than 2lbs. Walleyes were numerous but were gradually getting smaller. We seldom caught a walleye over 4 lbs.

Now, the last couple of years, the bass population is rebounding very strong, many 3lber's are caught, but the walleyes are almost non-existent, and those that are caught are mostly 1 1/2 lbs or less.

For years I would get my line snapped by something very big every year, maybe once or twice in a week. Enough to get my pulse going a bit, and to bring me back again the following year with eager anticipation.

It's been several years since I had my line snapped, and I typically use 8 pound test. I haven't caught a walleye over 3 1/2 lbs on that lake in 6 years. I have to go back 10 or more years for a 5 lber. There's still a big northern or two, but for the most part, it's just a small mouth lake now.

I dont mind, I love catching smb, and cant really tell the difference when I'm eating it (fried)... but I do miss tangling with a big walleye once in a while.

Considering the lake only sees one or 2 canoes in a week, I dont really think it has anything to do with pressure. Probably just spawning cycles and one species or another gets a leg up when they have a good run.

To tell you the truth, I'm more concerned with the recent dwindling of the moose population... the numbers I read last weekend about Northern minnesota's moose is down right scary.

My favorite lake has always had a cow in the same bay for years, and I haven't seen her the last 2 years now.... sad.

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Bobby Bass

FYI There is an article in the April-May In-Fishermen titled Visions & Views It talks of the boom of Smallmouth and the decline of walleyes in relation to water temperature change. With lake water increasing by just 1 degree C smallmouth will increase 2.5 times. Global warming is not just surface temperatures but effects our lake water also. Gunflint something for you to read they talk about the upper great lakes region.

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JBMasterAngler

Northen lights in canada, ok, I thought you meant northern light along the gunflint. Makes sense now. Bobby Bass, is there a link to that article online? Looks like a good one to read.

In my experiences up there I feel that some of the best walleye lakes up there also tend to be some of the best bass lakes as well...Crescent, Devil Track, Two Island are good examples. The walleyes have always been on the small side, but perfect for eating...but lot's of football sized bass.

The drawback on bass up there though is the fact that alot of the lakes have very low fertility, best examples are loon and greenwood lake. They're loaded with potato chip smallies because of the lack of a good food source. Excellent lakes to take the kids though, they'll be hooked on fishing for life after a day on those lakes.

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earth

The same senario has been occuring in Northern Wisconsin lakes. The big example is the Turtle Flambeau Flowage which is 14,300 acres. Some people have complained that the smallmouth have taken over the lake and there are now fewer walleyes. Apparently the DNR held a meeting to discuss the issue and the DNR has a position that states smallmouth do not compete with walleye and as a result they do not adversly affect walleye numbers or growth rates. However, in my opinion smallmouth eat the same minnows, crabs, insects ect. that the walleye do so I wonder how there can be no competition. This issue is not only a Arrowhead problem. I guess only the future will tell. By the way I would think walleye can handle a slight warm up in arrowhead lakes. The arrowhead region is colder then anywhere in Wisconsin and walleye have been fine in Wisconsin with warmer temps. then traditional arrowhead lake temperatures.

In the last two years I have fished both Sag and N. L. and have found the smallmouth to be way more numerous then the walleye. However going back to 2001, 2002 the walleye fishing was great. So go figure.

I think a fish biologist has a place on Sag and I have been told second hand that perhaps the spiny water flea may be hitting the walleye harder then the bass. Also I was told that helgramites are now in N.L. and they also were never there before. These ecosystems are in a state of change.

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Northlander

Earth my 1st 3 years on Northern Lights was back in 01-03 and the walleyes were great with a lot of big fish in the 25" to 30". The past o4 was slow and since has been nothing but Smallies and just a few eyes and nothing over 19".

I dont know what it is but I hope the eyes come back.

These lakes should start advertising the smallmouth fishing. Its crazy and some real nice ones too. Lots of fun if thats what your fishing for but a pain if your after eyes.

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earth

I almost forgot that a few years ago I read a very interesting article about research that the Ontario MNR did on Lake Trout and Smallmouth competition. At first thought this seems odd as Lake trout are a deep water fish and smallmouth generally shallow. However the Canadian MNR found that Smallmouth were negatively affecting Lake Trout. There ranges overlap in spring and perhaps winter and at some point lakes where bass were introduced showed that Lake Trout were being harmed. I cant remember the details exactly if it was growth rates and numbers going down or both but the MNR did find a negative impact on Lake Trout from Smallmouth. I believe it was that young lake trout were being outcompeted for food by smallmouth bass. As you know if you fish N.L. the small smallmouth will go down to depths were they could and do compete with Lake Trout.

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Tyler D

Honestly I think that walleyes are the most over rated fish on the planet, they dont fight, always finicky, boring to fish for I personally don't understand the draw. But I do understand that everyone has their own preferences, but I still think fishing is fishing no matter what the species. so the small mouths are more prevelant now why not just fish for them? I live on a river which will remain nameless, that was stocked with smallies a litle over 10 years ago. It used to be an awesome walleye fishery but it has gone down since the smallies have taken over. There are still pretty good walleyes in there but nothing like it used to be, many people stopped fishing it as a result of the smallie take over. Since then I pretty much have the river to myself and it has become a world class fishery for smallies. I catch 5 pounders nearly every day I fish numerous that go over 6 and two last summer that topped out just over 7. I am so glad the smallies took over they fight like no other fish and are much more interesting to fish for, I think people just need to have a more open mind and get out of the walleye rut a little bit.

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JBMasterAngler

Walleyes are definitely overrated! They taste good sure, but reeling them in is like reeling in a wet sock. Smallies fight hard, they're alot easier to catch, and in my opinion they taste better. So to all you walleye fisherman out there...if you want to do something about the bass "problem", switch your diet over to smallie fillets. That's about the only thing that can be done. My prediction...at least 5 more lakes in the grand marais area will have smallies "stocked" in them by 2010.

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Surface Tension

ENOUGH about over rated this and that. JB I don't buy your take on SMB. Nither do fisheries biologists. If you want SMB go for it but don't come here and tell me or anyone else what to fish for. GOT IT?

Now, its time to turn this nag around and lock her up in the barn!

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