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Rick

2020 Mille Lacs Lake Fishing Reports

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Wanderer

I’ve witnessed those skinny walleyes out there fall trolling.  Great length, giant head, no mass.  I agree 100% the limit shouldn’t be based on the weakest year class in the fishery to keep the harvest lower.

 

I’ll also say if the jumbos came back or ever will come back, the limit should be 10 or maybe even 5 to be sustainable.  I was there the years everyone was ignoring walleyes and coming off the lake with buckets full of jumbos.  I don’t think we’ll ever see that again in our lifetimes.

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IceHawk

 IMO they Definitely need to harvest more fish out there, regulate the population more. Cannibalism is happening the walleyes are basically eating themselves. Heck quite a few  times I fished that lake open water I honestly think you could of caught  a walleye dragging a beer can behind you. 😂 There definitely seems to be less forage out there but with the huge eye and smallie populations there it's pretty much expected.  I'm not a big fan of keeping a 21 plus inch fish for myself 19 is my personal cutoff.  if I'm going to keep one for tablefare.   But its what the DNR  wants so I have no problem with people doing it. Definitely know shortage of big fish out there but I also feel some of these skinny big females are old fish that are on there decline. Hence why a few skinny 26 plus show up every year.   Hopefully the DNR figures out some better solutions regs  in the future but I highly doubt it. I'm not a guy to get involved in ethics judgement  and politics but I guarantee that lake is being run from the casino's!  There's  money being handed under the table to our DNR Politicians and everyone else involved in the decisions being made. 

As far as the Jumbo Perch I fished them real hard out there in the 80's and 90's and had some great times  but saw them declineing year by year. Hopefully someday they rebound but I have my doubts. they ever will. There are a few out there but not even close to what it once was!  If they do I'm with Wanderer the harvest needs to be lowered to protect them. 

Edited by IceHawk
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Sculpin

The DNR has released the latest Mille Lacs harvest numbers through Jan. This calculation involves throwing darts at a spinning wheel, binocular observation, flyovers, and on lake creel reports. Why they persist in harvesting those fish that are basically prime spawners is beyond me. As we approach the opener, it is evident that the open water harvest season will last for about a week, and then lake will be shut down, but not really, just catch them, injure them, and release, and repeat=hooking mortality.

Total harvest for Jan was 12,303 lbs, with an additional 7,197 lbs in Dec. for a total of 19,500 lbs, which is already 22.2% of the allowable harvest.  Feb. numbers should come in about the same, or maybe a bit higher. Angler hours totaled 1,819,622 for Dec. and Jan. 

There were also 526 pike harvested for a total 0f 2,818lbs. 6805 tullibee, and 487burbot.

No perch were reported. Maybe they forgot to ask...

On and on it goes.

    

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Rick
3 hours ago, Tom Sawyer said:

 

😆😅😂😂😂😄😆

Days? Weeks? for 2 or 3??? Man you better stay on the couch. Check the catch this weekend and next out of Hunter's Point, bud .....

Btw, the gravel/sand out of Portside has been decent lately. 

That area is the best perch area on the lake imo.

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Sculpin

I'd like to make a correction to the DNR harvest report for Dec. and Jan. (above)  there were in fact some perch harvested. There were 16,410 perch harvested for 1850 lbs. in the Dec. Jan period. 

Sorry for the omission. 

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Tom Sawyer
2 hours ago, Sculpin said:

As we approach the opener, it is evident that the open water harvest season will last for about a week, and then lake will be shut down, but not really, just catch them, injure them, and release, and repeat=hooking mortality.

 

I'd say mortality may be even worse during winter from barotrama, compared to gut hooked fish in spring. Post Memorial Day closure, is my guess. 

 

Edited by Tom Sawyer
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Sculpin

I would tend to agree, however, the DNR obviously does not see it that way.  They show 267 walleyes died from hooking mortality in the Dec. Jan. period for a total poundage loss of 521lbs. The numbers are simply mind boggling, and amazing.

 

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DonkeyHodey
On ‎2‎/‎15‎/‎2020 at 3:11 PM, Rick said:

Do you think Mille lacs needs ...a different management system?

You mean trying to balance a mix of unsettled/uncertain science, big-dollars and politics isn't a good system?  Since when?🙄

 

I think your cycle is right on except I am not sure "cooler heads" will allow the cycle to fully occur because of what I stated above.  I've concluded Mille Lacs is rather stuck in management limbo to perpetuate the skinny walleye stage...

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gimruis

What I don't quite understand is why winter anglers are allowed to harvest fish and then the season has to completely shut down around Labor Day.  I mean, how many years has it been since we've been able to actually legally target a walleye in the fall?  3, 4, 5 years now?  If there's even a remote chance that it has to completely shut down at any point in the open water season, they should not be allowing the harvest of ANY fish during the winter season.  Pure BS in my opinion.  Should be the same all year round.

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Tom Sawyer
13 minutes ago, gimruis said:

What I don't quite understand is why winter anglers are allowed to harvest fish and then the season has to completely shut down around Labor Day.  

Less people fish in fall, = less money being spent. It is much less of an economical impact. I would love to see fall trolling again. Way less mortality on released, crank bait bite and shallow fish too. 

 

Edited by Tom Sawyer
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DonkeyHodey
10 minutes ago, gimruis said:

What I don't quite understand is why winter anglers are allowed to harvest fish and then the season has to completely shut down around Labor Day.  I mean, how many years has it been since we've been able to actually legally target a walleye in the fall?  3, 4, 5 years now?  If there's even a remote chance that it has to completely shut down at any point in the open water season, they should not be allowing the harvest of ANY fish during the winter season.  Pure BS in my opinion.  Should be the same all year round.

I would agree.

 

However, This is from the most recent DNR results in 2018 survey:

"Fishing effort for the 2017-2018 winter season was 1,951,650 angler-hours (ang-hrs), about 11% above the 35 year average"

"Open water fishing effort was approximately 615,350 ang-hrs, which remains about 53% below the 35 year average"

 

I was blown away by this:  three times the fishing hours in hard water vs. open water!  

(I know a good portion of those hours reflect people sleeping in wheelhouses, but still:  that's a lot of bait in the lake on a bobber or rattle reel...  ?hooking mortality is always a controversial topic on Mille Lacs but it would seem a high likelihood of a fatal swallowing incident when a fish swallows/swims off (triggering a rattle) than to an angler actively jigging.)

 

1,951,650 angler-hours is ALOT of money being spent in/around the lake... (gas/food/beverages/bait/entertainment/etc...) 

Unfortunately, "Pure BS" is usually trumped by "straight cash homey" (Props to Randy Moss...)

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gimruis

Good answer DonkeyHodey.  I still don't like it, though.

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Tom Sawyer
1 hour ago, DonkeyHodey said:

I would agree.

 

I was blown away by this:  three times the fishing hours in hard water vs. open water!  

Really? Not surprised at all. Ice fishing has always been a huge draw to the lake. Way more poeple ice fish then ever would fall fish and summer fish the lake. 

Hunting seasons .....

 

Edited by Tom Sawyer
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gimruis
2 hours ago, Tom Sawyer said:

Really? Not surprised at all. Ice fishing has always been a huge draw to the lake. Way more poeple ice fish then ever would fall fish and summer fish the lake. 

Hunting seasons .....

 

 

I was surprised by this too.  Most of my fishing friends and all of my family open water fish from May - October and none of them ice fish.  There is probably more pressure because people leave their houses out for weeks at a time, even though a lot of them are unattended.  You don't usually go out there with your boat and fish for weeks at a time.

Edited by gimruis

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Wanderer

i think we run into the situation where people have more free time in the winter, like seasonal workers and possibly fewer family activities/obligations?  Plus anybody with a vehicle can access the lake in the winter.  We can make summer or winter fishing as expensive as we want but accessing the entire lake in the winter can be done cheaply. 

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Tom Sawyer

The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee (MLFAC) will meet from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Appeldoorn’s Sunset Bay Resort, 45401 Mille Lacs Parkway, Isle.

 

The agenda will focus on this year’s safe harvest level, a fishing season update and DNR’s in-progress lake management planning process.

Members of the public may observe MLFAC meetings, but these meetings serve primarily as a way for the committee to hold group discussions. Fifteen minutes are reserved for public comments and questions. The committee has been active since October 2015. Its purpose is to advise the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the State of Minnesota’s fisheries management program for Mille Lacs Lake.

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Rick

An angler recently caught a 28.3” tagged walleye and quickly received the historic information back from the DNR.

 

This walleye was tagged on the north end of Mille Lacs in 2003 when it was 20.9”. 16 years later it was harvested near the southeast corner of the lake. 

 

Most will  only glance at the timeframe and conclude the fish was old, but how old?  

 

Walleye in Mille lacs will be approximately 6 yrs old at 20” (males will be shorter) now add the 16 years, so this walleye was over 22 years old. 
  
Why is this important to understand? 

This particular Walleye has been protected for the vast majority of its life, along with thousands of its close relatives.

 

All of them survived past their 20” protected mark and have roamed freely ever since, short of an occasional catch and release Death or harvested by spear or net in the spring.
  
As we look to the VERY near future, there is a Record large 2013 year class of walleye that is on average only 1” away (This summer) from becoming protected for the next 15 years.
 
Estimates by the DNR put this year class at almost 50% of the entire population of walleye in Mille Lacs. 
  
IMO the management of Mille Lacs has been on a collision course for exactly this type of scenario. Not only protect EVERY Walleye 20”-28” for the last 25+ years (with a few exceptions) but also take an uncharted course of PRESERVATION and completely protect (by one party) the record yr class of 2013 since its birth.

 

What’s the Solution? 

 

Most solutions are too harsh to accept and not possible under the CO-Management system. 

 

So what might happen? Mother Nature may take control and start cleaning the slate by starvation of the weak and move on to the strong. 

 

But thats just my Opinion.
Steve ... Johnson's Portside, Mille Lacs Lake.

4C7C3ACD-588C-4A1C-9780-99DC3F891DF2.jpeg.f10531ee9e2d40421a45ee1ed16d4778.jpeg

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gimruis
5 hours ago, Rick said:

16 years later it was harvested near the southeast corner of the lake. 

One has to wonder WHY such a fish was harvested.  Sure, you can keep one over 28 inches, but why would you?  Aint like you're gonna eat a fish that's over 22 years old and you can easily get a replica made instead of a skin mount.

 

I've already stated my opinion on winter anglers keeping fish when soft water anglers can't even target them via catch and release past Labor Day.  Its BS

Edited by gimruis

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Rick
8 minutes ago, gimruis said:

One has to wonder WHY such a fish was harvested.  Sure, you can keep one over 28 inches, but why would you? 

 

As for me I would prefer they pull those trophies out of the lake. Their reproductive ability is more limited and they are soon destined to become food for the ecosystem anyway.

 

I also advocate for encouraging harvest of year classes that are too large, such as the 2013 year class that will soon be protected. It's not always about me me me. Sometimes it's about what is best for the fishery.

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gimruis
On 2/28/2020 at 2:59 PM, Rick said:

As for me I would prefer they pull those trophies out of the lake. Their reproductive ability is more limited and they are soon destined to become food for the ecosystem anyway.

 

I also advocate for encouraging harvest of year classes that are too large, such as the 2013 year class that will soon be protected. It's not always about me me me. Sometimes it's about what is best for the fishery.

 

That's fair but you didn't address why my gripe about ice anglers keeping fish and open water anglers not even being able to target them in the fall.  lol

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Rick
1 hour ago, gimruis said:

 

That's fair but you didn't address why my gripe about ice anglers keeping fish and open water anglers not even being able to target them in the fall.  lol

I'll let you address that. :)

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Sculpin

Gimruis, the DNR explains all that in excruciating detail in the myriad reports, prognostications, policy papers, public pronouncements, economic evaluations, releases, Ouija board meetings, and Tribal negotiations. You just have to sift through it. What could be more clear..........

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gimruis

New open water regs announced today.  Full season catch and release for walleye except July when it will be closed with a full live bait ban that month.  Guess I prefer a planned closure like this than the abrupt closure later in the season, especially when the water is piss warm in July and mortality is so high.  Also, 3 fish limit on both smallmouth and pike, no pike over 30 and no bass over 17 can be harvested.

 

What really peevs me is that the winter anglers already accounted for 30,000 pounds of harvest.  They should not be able to harvest ANY fish if there is going to be some kind of closure in open water.

 

https://www.kare11.com/article/sports/outdoors/no-keepers-walleye-catch-and-release-on-mille-lacs-this-summer/89-6c813bd0-0150-4da7-af1f-1b89220d0ed8

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JBMasterAngler

Mille Lacs was a complete dud! Started out pike fishing in Cove Bay. Tip ups with sucker minnows and hotdogs. Also jigged rattle traps and bucktails. Nothing! 
 

Later walked out from access just south of Garrison. Went all the way out to 2nd pressure ridge. Fished from 30 feet, working way back to shore, down to 12 ft. Only 5 perch. Lost a small pike at bottom of hole.

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Austin12345

thats to bad how much ice out there?

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monstermoose78

Heard the panfish are starting to snap

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gimruis

Get your soft water gear ready.

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Austin12345

already did a week ago doc said I have a termianl case of cabin fever

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JBMasterAngler

Was probably close to 30 inches on main lake, 18 or so in cove bay. But it was deteriorating really fast. I could only imagine what today’s temps did, especially along the pressure ridges.

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Kettle

There were guys out on wheelers today when I drove past

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