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Fishing and the way of the BUFFALO ?

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Read the Star Tribune "Outdoors" section this morning. One article talked about Dave Genz and his traveling throughout the state (as well as the country) holding seminars on everything there is to ice fishing. Clothing, cameras, GPS, Vexilar, rods, reels, shelters, and even fake weeds. and all the "how-to" in putting fish on top the ice. Then I read another article with talk of slot limits, increasing muskie minimums and talk of minimum size limits to even SUNFISH! I know of several lakes north of the cities that have minimum size limits on CRAPPIES.

I starting ice fishing MilleLacs about 30 years ago. We fished with braided line (2 foot mono leader), tall bobber so you could see it from 20 feet away, all wrapped around the wooden sticks you now see popping up in the antique stores. we did modify a super 60 flasher to shoot through the ice for depth purposes. We drilled maybe 4 holes through use of the old blue self powered hand auger. We moved around very little. We sometimes pulled out a "portable" if not fishing too far from shore. The "portable" weighed 250 pounds and required a team of oxen to get the M-Fer out to where we wanted to fish. Bottom line, WE CAUGHT FISH !!!

Now 30 years later, while boosting the profits of the fishing industry, my son has all the latest gizmos, gadgets, sonar, cameras, high tech line/rods/reels and a lowrance GPS with the lake map chip. He's caught a lot of fish but has noticed that the old spots are not as good any more. He's noticed that the quality/quantity of the fish caught (and returned) has dropped some. He has noticed where a spot used to have 1 or 2 groups on it now has 30 groups on it all armed to the teeth with the latest fishing technology. He still catches fish but mostly comes home empty handed due to slots, minimum size requirements and lowered limits or the dreaded "I never got a bite" situation.

Where is all this headed? It sometimes is easy for me to equate all this to what happened to the millions of buffalo roaming the prairie. Trains outfitted for 20-30 "buffalo hunters" to blast them down from moving railroad cars using the latest high tech guns and ammo only to take a few pictures. Is this where we are headed? Will I actually see in my life time, Minnesota regulations stating slots in terms of a quarter inch? Walleye slot limit....14 3/4 to 15 1/2 inches. Yikes and thank you Mr. Genz.

Sorry for rambling on and on here. I do have a Vexi battery to charge and a camera lens that needs cleaning and a solar panel I am sewing on to the top of my ice armor stocking cap.

Good luck to us all, and the future of fishing.


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Faner, it's frustrating when fishing is tough, but I wouldn't be so quick to point the finger at equipment or Dave Genz. For what it's worth I salute you for braving the elements and fishing the old fashioned way...it sure makes you appreciate what you have today.

Your entitled to your opinion, but there's a whole stack of information and success stories about quantity and size improvement from slots and reduced bag limits. They need to be used correctly and are no panacea, but when used correctly and followed, they can provide for improved size structure, protection of spawning stock, and protection of highly vulnerable species when angler voluntary restraint is low. Has fishing brought about a decline across the boards in average size and big fish numbers? Yes, but that was far before the modern advancements in ice fishing from the last 25 years. Google "Sport-Fisheries Trends Shown by an Annual Minnesota Fishing Contest over a 58-Year Period." Fishing exploitation has had effects on Minnesota fish populations, but it was far before the leaps and bounds of the ice fishing industry.

You don't need the science to prove it though; the average guy fishing Mille Lacs gets into some nice fish and in some years many fish. Without a slot there's a good chance it could still be "the home of the quarter pounder."

My best advice is to move around and be portable, on the ice and across the state. That's the beauty of modern ice fishing, isn't it? You can pack up and move relatively quickly, you don't need that oxen team anymore. Move to find the fish. Move to find good lakes. The old spots might not be working because they aren't used by fish anymore. Don't worry about that crowd of 30 guys on one spot...the herd mentality is prevalent in too many of today's ice anglers. Besides, what do you think all that pressure does to those fish? Pushes them off the spot and makes them less aggressive at the least.

Buffalo were cut down by market gunners, I don't think our local game fish are in too much trouble by a few recreational weekend warriors keeping a meal of fish here and there.

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had a conversation this weekend with my dad about how ice fishing gear was no more than an auger, jiggle sticks, an upside-down bucket and a bottle of your favorite antifreeze. we were both pretty sure the catching was better with the "inferior" equipment. pressure seems to take on a whole new meaning with 24 hr a day traffic on a lot of lakes. i think it moves fish off of spots that they need to be in order to grow or flourish. also herd mentality seems to be a lot worse where sport meets sustenance. best quote i've heard "sure, i'm gonna keep a limit before they're all gone!" a guy could think on that for a while and get a headache.

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