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Net_Man

The Good, Bad And The.......

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Net_Man

I was able to get out yesterday afternoon for the 2nd trip this year. I decided to hit a north end flat this time which I have next to no experience with but GPS will travel. Except for 2 trips last year I have not iced fished Mille Lacs for some +7 years.

 

Off road travel is pretty limited  now for a trucks. Most banks on the main road are a bit too intimidating to drive through. Side access roads give you a better chance to get off road. I did see one person that decided to put orange cones out to keep you off of his road which I thought was unique.....

 

Located a bit of a inside bend and pulled my portable out. Started to hole hop and I quickly was over heated. Had to take off bibs and I went down to a T shirt for a bit with the lovely weather. Marked a significant number of fish but getting them to bight was challenging. I tried quite a different lures but no bobbers or dead sticking. I mustered up 4 walleyes and 1 tulibee. Not the most productive day but it was great to get out.

 

Yes, that was the good and now for the ugly. What a zoo. It is like the opening day of the open water walleye season each weekend ice fishing on Mille Lacs now. Based on this fishing pressure I do not see how we will ever see a more liberal walleye limited instituted.

 

Now let's talk about my earlier trip which I spent the night. We had 2 people in the house but we fished a total of 3 lines during the day and went to 2 at night. Most of my ice fishing experience has been during the day but waking up to the great sound of a rattle reel at night is quite the pleasure. In a deep sleep and then waking up trying to figure out which rattle reel has the bite when you are groggy. We were using fat head minnows on a jig but after the first 2 fish we pulled up our lines for the night. I am a light sleeper and I generally move pretty quick but both fish had the jig in it's throat. Not good..........

 

I know you do not gut hook fish all of the time at night with a rattle reels but I would suggest that we have a discussion that on any lake that has a slot limit restriction that fishing should be limited to the hours you are awake. Yes, ban fishing when you go to sleep on these lakes!

 

This zoo like nature of ice fishing is not only on Mille Lacs. Based on my visuals it is all over. Maybe with this extreme increased fishing pressure during the ice fishing season maybe we should have a discussion to got to a 1 line rule as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mustangsally

The silver lining is the resorts really need the business. Mixed opinions on this other topic but I agree it's been a zoo

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Parmer

 I go to mille lacs to catch fish.  I could care less about keeping anything. It's fun catching big walleyes... There is spots out there that ain't a zoo and you can get away from people.  I would have to disagree on limiting it to one line and banning rattle reels. Just my 2 cents. 

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Wanderer

I also disagree with going to 1 line.  In a house it doesn’t really make a difference.  And sometimes the tip up outside is the only thing catching fish.

 

The rattle reel thing - I don’t ever want to see a change there but I get your point @Net_Man.  To me it’s a fine line with some as to calling them attended lines when everyone in the house is sleeping.  I’m also a very light sleeper when the reels are fishing and am almost always the first out of the bunk when one goes.  Sometimes it can turn into the ugly version of the lingerie bowl with other light sleepers but other times I can catch a fish, release it, and reset the line without others even waking up.

 

A couple things that can help is using circle hooks on your night sets and learning the best ways to handle and remove (or don’t remove) hooks in fishes throats.  And knowing if there’s at least one person who can wake up when a rattle reel sounds!

 

I’m also amazed at the number of houses on Mille Lacs.  I fished it twice this year and even after doing well, I have no plans to see it again this season.  I honestly got bored catching those walleyes.  But I’m also not a die hard walleye fisherman.  I’d prefer to work over a school of nice panfish.

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leech~~

A limit is a limit if you have one or ten lines!

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gimruis

Net_Man, there is not as much fishing pressure during the open water season as there used to be.  The primary reason for that is meat hunters avoid it now because the bag limit has been ZERO walleyes the past few years out there.  They even closed it to walleye fishing a couple times because the fishing was so good and hooking mortality was so high, and there has been a permanent night ban other than on opening weekend.  A lot more anglers out there now in the open water season target bass.  The secret has gotten out on those fish now because it was ranked #1 in the country for bass fishing 2 years ago.  Also, there is pressure from muskie anglers too because its ranked #6 nationally for muskies.  Obviously there is no angling pressure for these species in the winter and people are allowed to keep 1 walleye, so that is the reason for increased number of people out there now.  That, and the additional use of wheel houses adds a lot of constant pressure because, like you said, people tend to set a line on a rattle reel and just leave it alone all night.

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Getanet
3 hours ago, gimruis said:

Obviously there is no angling pressure for these species in the winter and people are allowed to keep 1 walleye, so that is the reason for increased number of people out there now. 

 

I've always kind of wondered, do people not target smallies through the ice? I know you can't fish for muskies. But being such strong fighters, I would think they would be a ton of fun through the ice. I know the popularity of fishing smallies during the open water season has grown, especially on Mille Lacs, but I never hear anything about people hitting the ice for them. Maybe I just talk to the wrong people?

 

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BIGFISH.JZ

In my experience both species of bass become lethargic during winter. I have found a few lakes where you can pull some through a hole basically each trip, but mostly they cling to bottom and swim slowly, showing zero interest in lures. 

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tfin

Went out on Saturday and stuck my truck 4 times with the last one jamming up my brakes.  Luckily I was about 40 yards from a flat so I walked over and drilled a few holes.  Found 1 that I liked and drilled a second hole for a dead stick.  Fished the morning out and caught 4 perch over 12" and one 10".  Also caught 7 or 8 walleye with the size ranging from 7" to 27.5".  I would have only caught a few fish though if I had only 1 line.  It is a key tactic for myself and many others to dead stick one hole and jig the other.  Limiting us to 1 line would be fine with younger people and those with money for sleds.  They have a lot easier time being mobile and covering more water.  The rest of us rely on two line skill bring fish in and keep them around until we figure out how to get them to bite.  Having one line in while switching jigs is huge.  The fact that some people might get sloppy and gut hook a fish now and then isn't reason to ban the second line.  If that's the case then you might want to consider forcing fish safety lessons in order to get your license.  Far more gut hooks happen from lindy rigging and giving the fish more time than they need and bobbers that don't get noticed.  Oh yeah,  brakes thawed out by noon so getting off the lake was much easier than getting on.

 

 

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leech~~

Well I got a sled. Tell me where you were setup and I'll only use one line and see if it makes a difference? 😄

Edited by leech~~
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tfin
5 hours ago, leech~~ said:

Well I got a sled. Tell me where you were setup and I'll only use one line and see if it makes a difference? 😄

 

Not even sure but I think it was curley's.  I took Terry's road out and then turned off to drive straight at Seguchie  flat.  Made it about 1/2 mile.  Just look for 4 spots with no snow due to me having to dig my truck out.  Then follow the foot tracks for another 40 yards.  I drilled holes all around the place trying to find the edge of the flat but all I found was 28 fow.  My gps unit was hooked up to my power in the truck so I couldn't take it with on the hike.  I fished many of the holes but only caught fish out of the house with the two lines. I'd say it was about half and half dead stick to jig.  Missed a few really nice fish with poor hook sets.  Had a lunker bounce off the bottom of the ice.  The best thing about it though was the lack of tullibee at the spot.  Not a fan of those pest.    

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gimruis
14 hours ago, BIGFISH.JZ said:

In my experience both species of bass become lethargic during winter. I have found a few lakes where you can pull some through a hole basically each trip, but mostly they cling to bottom and swim slowly, showing zero interest in lures. 

 

Makes total sense since they're a warmwater species of freshwater fish.  Once the temp drops below 50, they go into hibernation.

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Net_Man

To clarify - I have nothing against rattle reels. My concern is with having lines in the water while every one in the fish house is sleeping. And with the extreme increased ice fishing pressure over the last few years how this practice injures countless walleyes on a lake like Mille Lacs where there is size regulation that the chance is slim to none that you can keep a injured walleye.

 

I am fully aware of the past regulations during the open water season. At least they did not close the walleye season this last fall. And I can chat all day/night long about my distaste over the continuous open water night ban for walleye. So how did we get such tight restrictions during the open water season compared to the ice fishing season? You would think that the regulations would be similar to each other compared to how far apart as they are now.

 

Meat hunters on Mille Lacs? When was the last time that there was a regulation in place that allowed you to keep enough walleyes to be considered a meat hunter? The use of the term "meat hunter" was not intended to be used for all people that did not release 100% of their catch. And I do not think a 1 walleye limit would bring out what we would call a meat hunter yet the ice fishing pressure is increasing. 

 

 

 

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Bigfatbert
On 2/4/2019 at 7:00 AM, leech~~ said:

A limit is a limit if you have one or ten lines!

 

Disagree with you on this one  leech , but do believe that two poles should be allowed on the ice . .

As for the rattle wheels no ban on them ,BUT use of them while your sleeping is just not right . There already is laws on unattended lines and if your sleeping it’s impossible that one is attending those lines . Would love to hear others  thoughts on this subject of unattended lines  , whether by use of rattle wheels , and/or just a rod and reel while sleeping . Does one really believe a judge would agree that your attending your lines while sleeping , i highly doubt it....

 

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gimruis

There's really no difference from leaving an unattended rattle reel in the winter when comparing it to lindy rigging in the summer and feeding a fish 10 seconds of line.  Live bait kills more fish than artificial, period.  In fact, if anything the mortality is going to be higher in the summer because the water is warmer.  That's just how it is - warmer water kills a lot more fish.  Studies have proven that over and over.

 

Net_Man, the reason they don't allow any fish to be harvested in the open water season is because the fishing is significantly better.  The harvest would be way too high right now.  When there used to be a harvestable quota, the harvest during open water was 400,000 pounds at its peak and in the winter it was about 15,000 pounds...even with the same keeper slot.  The reason: fish are cold blooded so their activity level is dictated by the environment around them.  Their metabolism slows way down in the winter.  They are not feeding nearly as much.  I'm not saying you can't catch fish in the winter but comparing winter vs summer given the same amount of time and only a single line in the water, I think we can all agree just about everyone would catch more fish in the open water season.  All things being equal, the success rate is much higher in the open water season.  Also, in the winter, most wheel houses just park somewhere and sit there regardless of whether they are catching fish or not.  In the open water season, people move to where the fish are constantly.  Its a lot easier to move with an outboard motor than it is in a wheel house.  Think about it, how long would you sit in one spot in a boat without catching fish?  10 minutes?  In a wheel house people sit there for weeks on end, and sometimes they don't move it all winter long.

Edited by gimruis
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Jplante

Haven't been there for 7+ years but can comment on how busy it is every weekend? Not fishing through the night? We are limited enough of Mille Lacs no thanks to any of those suggestions. I'll be nice and comfy in my skid house, come one come all. Resort and bait shops are not complaining

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Net_Man

There must not have been a Super Bowl game because I did not play in it. But there must have been one because I watched the game. Oh, but I only watched it once so I am not qualified to talk about the game..........

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Net_Man

I was back visiting the zoo yesterday. Went out from the east and fished for the day. It was nice to see with the tougher off road travel conditions that there was a little elbow room on a few of the flats. The fish were a little more cooperative for me this weekend but I am sure this was due to location.

 

Gimruis, I appreciate your well thought out response. However, my point is with the current extreme fishing pressure during the ice fishing season we need to see some changes in the winter fishing regulations.

 

Yes there is a fair amount of permanent fish houses that rarely move but there is also a fair amount of wheel houses coming and going. The wave of wheel houses arriving on Friday for the weekend stay is a bit astonishing. It is not as attractive to move when the majority of the various structure is already jammed with ice houses.

 

I agree with your comments of the probability of increased mortality with live bait. But we have already seen the backlash when the DNR announced no live regulations. It only took a couple of weeks before they reversed that plan.

 

And I agree with your comments on increased mortality during warm water periods but warm water was not why the open water fishing for walleyes was closed after Labor day 2 years ago or night walleye fishing in the fall has been closed for the last several years.

 

And when is the last time that you seen someone open water fishing straight through 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours or more............ If you would like a more liberal policy for the ice season than it is during the open water season then maybe the winter season should be at the tail end of the yearly quota and not at the beginning!

 

And as I read the article in Star Tribune this morning on Mill Lacs my irritation level has increased even further..................

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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gimruis

I read that article too. Unreal. The amount of people breaking the law is just rampant.

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Wanderer

Nothing in that article surprised me; which is sad.

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