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BringAnExtension

Ice Fishing Season

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upnorth

Looks like there will be a decent harvest slated.  5000 pounds allowed anyways,

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Kyhl

3 points.

  1. It will be interesting to see how they mangle the slot(s) to protect both the spawning population and the 2013 year class..  Those 2013 fish are abundant and should be around 13" this winter.  I bet that a few ice anglers will be happy to fry up some 13" walleyes if that is all they can keep when the 19-21" range is virtually nonexistent.
    1. Per a previous DNR survey, Age 3 walleye, which these will be spring 2016, are 13"-14".
    2. Age 2, which they were at spring 2015, they were 12"-13" making them around 13" this winter.
  2. By raising the cap from last winter by 61% are they finally willing to say that the DNR's models were incorrect when they closed the season in August.  I know they will never admit they were wrong but I think we can infer it by their actions.
  3. I think we are also seeing the DNR finally understanding that overly protecting the large fish has caused harm to the lake.  We see this by looking at the DNR's plans for dealing with Red Lake's abundance of spawning fish, possibly raising the limit to 3 fish where one can be over 17", instead of the previous 2 fish and anything in a 17-26 slot being released.
Edited by Kyhl

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Sculpin

Early indications from the most recent planning meeting suggests that there will be a very tight slot again this winter, one at 18 to 20, something in that range. They are not going to allow any harvest wherein you can actually harvest fish. And on it goes. 

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Kyhl

Yep.  Maybe 1 fish in a 2" window again.  Effectively catch and release.  I'm ok with that.

In other news, the advisory committee is a joke and was shut out from decision meetings.

Brainerd Dispatch

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Sculpin

I think you misunderstand. The Tribes have made it clear from the outset, that they do not want their end of the "process" open.  Hence the reference to the Oct 15th meeting. This is typical, and while no one with an opinion supports it, the DNR will continue to acquiesce to the Indians. Why ?  I cannot say. Money, political power, and fear of more lawsuits to protect their rights, who knows.  It's a top secret deal over there in the Tribal Village. 

As far as the advisory committee being "shut out" as you say from the balance of the decision making  process, that is inaccurate.  The committee made it clear to the DNR that they would not be responsible for that part of the decision making process. That has been the PROBLEM for the last 15 years, it was always viewed as decisions being made by the greedy local few, for the many. The committee is making it clear that the DNR must decide the Regs, that's their job, and they need to do it based upon the best information they can gather, and then be RESPONSIBLE for it long term. The committee is there to listen, debate, advise, and assist, not to set seasons and quotas.  There is an underlying, long term strategy being employed.  Stay tuned.     

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Stick in Mud

I'm with you guys...something in that 18-20 or 19-21 range seems most likely.  There are so few fish that it'll be catch-and-release for all intents and purposes.  

It'll be interesting to listen to the bar chatter regarding how many of those nice 15-17 inch fish are actually being put back down the hole.  If the bite this summer and fall is any indication, there'll be a lot of biters out there this winter.  

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Kyhl

I admire your optimism and trust Sculpin.  10 years of mismanagement leaves me skeptical of closed door decisions.

What is the point of a committee that has no input on decisions?  What is the point of debating, and advising if they have zero chance of influencing an outcome?  I suppose they could be there to help market the decsions.

I think it was well proven back in August that the DNR was wrong to close the season when they used bad data in their models.  Will they publish the data and transcripts that led to this decision?

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delcecchi

And in September,  Dayton demanded there be a season this winter.  So it was all just for show.

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Kyhl

And in September,  Dayton demanded there be a season this winter.  So it was all just for show.

Agreed.

It was a great way for the DNR to build it's fiefdom, Close it down on bad data, create a solution that will do nothing, build a committee with no input, and surprise, it all back to where we were a year ago but with more bureaucracy.  Progress. 

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delcecchi

Looks like there will be a decent harvest slated.  5000 pounds allowed anyways,

5000 pounds is a trivial amount if the fishing pressure is normal.  Strib article from September said a normal winter fishing pressure is 1.5 million angler hours.  So, if a legal fish weighs 2 pounds you have 2500 fish for 1.5 million hours or 1 fish for every 600 angler hours.  600 hours is 25 days 24/7.

Am I missing something? Sounds like they are giving Dayton his season but next to no harvest to go with it. 

Edited by delcecchi

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Kyhl

It is basically a catch and release style of season that they have had for a couple years.  The odds of winning a thousand dollar scratch off ticket are probably better than finding a keeper walleye on the ice in that slot.

With winter hooking mortality being almost non-existant is makes sense to have a C&R season with a slim chance of finding an eater in the haystack.

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bobbymalone

Looks like there will be a decent harvest slated.  5000 pounds allowed anyways,

5000 pounds is a trivial amount if the fishing pressure is normal.  Strib article from September said a normal winter fishing pressure is 1.5 million angler hours.  So, if a legal fish weighs 2 pounds you have 2500 fish for 1.5 million hours or 1 fish for every 600 angler hours.  600 hours is 25 days 24/7.

Am I missing something? Sounds like they are giving Dayton his season but next to no harvest to go with it. 

They showed a clip from that meeting on the news and one of the pro fisherpeople's there said they could hit the quota in a weekend of hot bite.

I don't understand why they don't just shut it down.  There isn't a point to having a 5000lb harvest.

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Bandersnatch

Anglers may keep one walleye between 18 and 20 inches or one longer than 28 inches when ice fishing begins on Mille Lacs Lake this winter. 

The winter walleye regulation goes into effect on Tuesday, Dec. 1, and extends through Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources decision reflects the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee’s desire to keep winter fishing open all season.
 

Consistent with the committee’s discussion, the DNR also will reduce the limit of northern pike on Mille Lacs from 10 to five, with one fish longer than 30 inches allowed. Anglers may only keep a northern longer than 30 inches if they have caught two pike shorter than 30 inches and have both in immediate possession.

The pike regulation goes into effect on Dec. 1 and continues through Sunday, March 27, 2016. Its intent is to provide anglers with additional opportunity to catch and keep fish on Mille Lacs.

 

http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2015/10/26/mille-lacs-ice-anglers-allowed-to-keep-1-walleye-5-northern/#more-17203

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Sculpin

The harvest level may in fact be unachievable due to the fact that very few walleyes in the harvest slot exist in the lake. The DNR knows this all too well, having just come through the summer months with only a couple thousand pounds of fish harvested, and the balance being hooking mortality. The DNR has a pretty good idea of what's out there, and those fish in the 18/20 range are not going to represent a big part of the overall catch. It was also encouraging to learn that fall test netting showed a pretty significant number of nice perch in the mix, and five strong year classes of tullibee's.  It is thought that with fewer and fewer big walleyes in the biomass, those fish are experiencing better survival rates. 15 years of study, and here we are, voila !!       

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delcecchi

What do they assume for poaching and hooking mortality? 

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Sculpin

I guess that's a question you'd have to ask the DNR. Not sure there is a "poaching" factor put into play on Mille Lacs or any other lake in the state. The DNR would have us believe that hooking mortality is very low in the winter, almost a non factor. The winter harvest last year was estimated to be 3,100 lbs. and that was with a two fish limit, so it's doubtful 5,000 lbs. will be reached, even with poaching.     

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JBMasterAngler

Is hooking mortality really a non factor in winter? All I ever hear about at lake of the woods is the number of dead sauger/walleye floating around at the bottom of the ice, due to being retrieved too fast. For the most part, LOTW is only a few deeper than mille lacs. Can just a few feet really make a difference of a lot of dead fish to almost no dead fish?

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upnorth

Looks like there will be a decent harvest slated.  5000 pounds allowed anyways,

5000 pounds is a trivial amount if the fishing pressure is normal.  Strib article from September said a normal winter fishing pressure is 1.5 million angler hours.  So, if a legal fish weighs 2 pounds you have 2500 fish for 1.5 million hours or 1 fish for every 600 angler hours.  600 hours is 25 days 24/7.

Am I missing something? Sounds like they are giving Dayton his season but next to no harvest to go with it. 

They showed a clip from that meeting on the news and one of the pro fisherpeople's there said they could hit the quota in a weekend of hot bite.

I don't understand why they don't just shut it down.  There isn't a point to having a 5000lb harvest.

It is a political feel good decision.  

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Kyhl

Is hooking mortality really a non factor in winter? All I ever hear about at lake of the woods is the number of dead sauger/walleye floating around at the bottom of the ice, due to being retrieved too fast. For the most part, LOTW is only a few deeper than mille lacs. Can just a few feet really make a difference of a lot of dead fish to almost no dead fish?

I don't know about LOTW.  Could that be filed under anecdotal evidence possibly blown out of proportion?

From a 2013 DNR Mille Lacs study see table 3 on pg 20.  21 walleye at 83lbs counted in hooking mortality for January and February combined.

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Sculpin

I agree with Kyhl. I have made numerous trip to LOTWS every winter for 27 years, I can say I have not personally had any major release issues, an occasional small sauger once and awhile.  I fail to see how anyone can see dead fish floating around "at the bottom of the ice" It sounds suspect. 

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BlackArrow1

For anyone who ice angles Mille Lacs. The 5,000 lb quota is just a gesture. Mille Lacs is no Red Lake or LOTW in the winter. In my opinion: Mille Lacs icing of eyes is really only good early ice for targeting schools of active fish. Up until end of Dec and early Jan. Rentals on Mille Lacs are party shacks mostly. They are high priced party shacks on the edge of a big flat. You may get a fish here or there. It is no Red Lake or LOTW.  After December you have to drill lots and follow/find the schools, being mobile. Like I've said before, I'm tribe. I angle the lake only. I do keep the bigger walleyes for table fare. There has been so many the last 5 years. How can anyone who fishes it that couldn't say they were on the mud in June and didn't get mostly all big walleye? Lots of em. Tons. My bud "white" said he caught like 80 in a full day. Most from 22-28 inches. The slot protected those fish. It was a boom 5 years ago, and diminished the years after. Those fish made it through many years of tribal netting. When the tribal quota was way high. Late ice did not save all those fish from the nets. The demographics of the lake changed. And the DNR drastically mismanaged it while it happened. They did very little to manage the walleye. Not to put gas on a fire, but I've fished a lot. Open water and ice. I've taken my tribal quota enough times. Never been checked on the water, or at the landing. Once was asked by some DNR students taking fish surveys. I've fished Red Lake icing eyes. Been checked regular, sometimes twice a day. I've never had a warden check me on Mille Lacs. It's not that big of water. Seems to me that the critical state of the lake would warrant better monitoring. How about making a Game Warden presence known? Point of my rant, it's not just the tribe's take that many claim for the lake's demise. The DNR saw the trends of fish populations declining happening. Nothing happened over night. We(Mille Lacs Band) are governed by the Minnesota DNR for healthy harvest levels on the lake. They gauge and allot what the lake needs to sustain. Then they allow the tribe a poundage % that we can take by our methods. We don't regulate that. Gill net harvest pounds are regulated quite well. There is Tribal DNR that  are at the harvest landings registering all poundage. Hate the rights of natives, fine. But the argument is really on the Mn DNR. They dictate the harvest poundages. 

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maxpower117

I agree with a lot of what you said. You also say that the gill net harvest is closely regulated. Do you only mean the Mille Lacs band? Or all bands that net the lake?

I've been hearing that it's the other bands that take the most fish. 

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gregg52

I think most of DNR was educated guessing

But if it wasn't for nets they wouldn't had to do all that slot guessing

As I said before many time ,you mess with mother nature more times than not

You will lose!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and that's exactly happen over there and from what I read that's what is going to contuinue

Its a shame the best reproducing walleye lake in the world and man ruined it !!!!!!!!!!

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