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JBMasterAngler

The DNR held a meeting last Saturday in Grand Marais in regards to some potential management changes on several area lakes and streams. I really wanted to go to the meeting, but it just wasn’t feasible. Did anyone happen to go? The DNR will take comments via e-mail for another month or so. I requested a copy of the management plans. They included: temperance, north brule, little devil track, devil track, and kimball rivers. West bearskin, Tait, carrot, chester, holly, Agnes, swamper, pit, kemo, shoko, quiver, lux, Rose, deer yard, rog, elm, ray, zephyr lakes. 
 

I only had interest in a few of the lakes, so I only responded with a couple comments. Increasing brown trout stocking on Chester, introducing cisco to Kemo, and implementing a bass slot on West Bearskin. I’ll be interested to hear other questions/comments if and when they become available. DNR hasn’t responded to mine yet.

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BRULEDRIFTER

Thanks for the heads up on this!  I just sent them the following email. 

 

Good afternoon, 

 

I am curious if potentially implementing a slot limit, or maximum size regulation on lake trout is being considered in this management plan?

 

As an avid and passionate lake trout angler for over 15 years, I have noticed that over the last number of years lake trout angling has greatly increased in popularity, and with that, the overall quality and quantity of the fish populations have significantly decreased (at least in my experiences).  Stocking them has long been discontinued and it seems the vast majority of anglers keep fish of any size. In fact, it seems in the world of lake trout, the bigger the better. It seems that education about how fragile these fish are is just not readily available for people. There is some stuff out there if one were to dig deep enough, and a few of the more popular fishing shows are doing some education, but overall, it seems to be lacking because walleye are king.

 

Personally, I practice and promote selective harvest with lakers. My personal slot (and one I would love to see here in all MN Inland waters) is anything less than 17" and and greater than 25" go back in the lake ( so, a 2 fish total bag limit, 17-25", with 1 fish allowed over 32"). It would also be nice to see more strict limits put in place on the most popular lake trout fisheries, but a statewide slot would be a great place to start. 

 

I have felt for quite a long time (as I've seen their popularity grow, and stocking discontinue) that some additional protection for these fish was greatly needed. There are Esox groups, bass groups, walleye groups, stream trout/steelhead groups and even catfish and sturgeon groups out there promoting and cheer leading for those fish species, but nothing out there for the laker.

 

I would love to see the MN DNR finally take some steps to help protect what we have left of lake trout fisheries while we still have them.  

 

So, in summary, 

 

Are there any additional protections (slots, limits, etc) for lake trout being included in this new management plan?

 

Has there been any research done on how smallmouth bass are impacting lake trout populations?  And if so, are they impacting them? 

 

If smallies are having an impact on lakers, can there be anything done, aside from aggressive harvest of smallmouth to protect laker populations?  

 

 

Thank you very much for your time!

 

Sincerely, 

 

An Extremely Passionate Lake Trout Angler

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BRULEDRIFTER
On 11/5/2019 at 7:23 PM, JBMasterAngler said:


 

 implementing a bass slot on West Bearskin. 

 

I personally would like to see the smallie wiped off the map in this lake (and all laker lakes). They aren't native and I assume they are detrimental to laker populations.  I can only imagine what they do to laker fry and yoy on those rocks and reefs.  It seems as the laker population declined on W. Bearskin, the smallies have exploded.  Not sure if that's because the SM have more food to work with with less lakers, or because the lake trout are the smallies food. I''ll be curious to see how the DNR responds to that question I asked, if they respond at all.  

Edited by BRULEDRIFTER
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JBMasterAngler

I haven’t gotten a response to my comments yet. I’d like to see what other people are asking or suggesting also.

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fishin4sum

Completely agree with Bruledrifter!!  Small mouth Bass are an invasive species and the fact they are not treated as such is not only maddening but disheartening!  Most of these lakes on the Gunflint should be managed for their native species which is primarily Lake Trout.  Totally ridiculous that this is not happening!  Every lake we have seen Small mouth Bass populations explode on, there has been a direct correlation of reduced native species fish populations.  PLEASE stop the ridiculous slot limits on small mouth bass!  It is not needed!

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Sculpin

Please also convey your collective ideas to the DNR relative to Mille Lacs lake, another fishery inundated with bass, and totally out of whack relative to the walleye population. The DNR would have you believe that the primary forage of small mouth bass is crayfish. When asked what they eat in the winter, you are met with a blank stare, and told there needs to be a study on that. I've caught a ton of smallies, but never once on a crayfish, or an imitation, but I'm sure they work. Leeches, crawlers, senkos, redtails, suckers, every crankbait imaginable, surface baits, buzzbaits, spinner baits. 

The protection of the smallmouth fishery is driven by political pressure, the Smallmouth Alliance, folks like the Linders, tournament organizers, and everyone else who can convince the DNR they make for a great fishery.

INVASIVES 

  

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leech~~
52 minutes ago, fishin4sum said:

Completely agree with Bruledrifter!!  Small mouth Bass are an invasive species and the fact they are not treated as such is not only maddening but disheartening!  Most of these lakes on the Gunflint should be managed for their native species which is primarily Lake Trout.  Totally ridiculous that this is not happening!  Every lake we have seen Small mouth Bass populations explode on, there has been a direct correlation of reduced native species fish populations.  PLEASE stop the ridiculous slot limits on small mouth bass!  It is not needed!

 

Same with Pheasants. Not native but treated as so with a season and stamp costs. I would love to be able to fish more Lakers in other lakes then just a few I have to drive hours up to.

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roony

Must Kill Smallmouth!

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BRULEDRIFTER
21 hours ago, Wanderer said:

@JBMasterAngler @BRULEDRIFTER

 

Did either of get a reply?

 

 

Yes, I received one a few days after I sent my email out. I forgot to update this post....

 

Here is the response:

 

"We’ll be considering limits of some kind on lake trout as we review plans for our inland lake trout waters, although I can’t say at this point what or where we might be ready to implement.  Statewide it’s probably a harder sell, not the least because we have such a wide range of types of lake trout lakes and populations, each with different drivers and risks.   No one slot can be effectively applied; for example, we have several small remote lake trout lakes with high numbers of fish where the bulk of the adult population is under 17 inches in length, and no fish ever reach 25 inches.  On inland lakes, it’s pretty safe to say we have no lakes where any angler is ever likely to catch more than one fish over 32 inches, so a one-over 32-inch limit would not be very effective.  Finally, there are some lake trout angling methods (and seasons) where mortality among released lake trout can reach 50%, so we wouldn’t want to leave the impression with any angler that it’s OK to catch a lot of fish while catch-and-release lake trout fishing as long as you don’t harvest any.  We’d probably have to regulate methods as well as numbers and sizes to really protect lake trout.  We will have to get creative to craft effective regulations, even if we limit them to single lakes, or groups of similar lakes.  We are taking a hard look at it though, since climate change alone will reduce the production capacity of all of our inland lake trout waters, making them less able to sustain current harvests.

 

The Minnesota DNR did a study on smallmouth-lake trout interactions several years ago, but the results were, at best, inconclusive.  Ontario has done more work on the topic, looking at cases where smallmouth become newly established in lake trout lakes.  There the outcome depends on whether lake trout have a cold-water forage base available (i.e. cisco, smelt, or mysis), or are dependent more on shallow-water fish and other invertebrate forage.  In the former case, lake trout seem to shift to cold-water forage, and are not greatly affected by bass.  In the latter, the entire shallow fish community can be lost, and lake trout growth rates suffer.  Unfortunately, we have examples of both situations playing out in Minnesota now.  At this point we don’t have any effective way to control smallmouth once they are present.  Anglers now release 90% of the bass they catch, so we aren’t really able to ramp up harvests just by liberalizing limits.  In this area it’s rare to see an angler who has kept two bass, let-alone the six they are allowed.  One possibility would be an “earn-a-laker” reg, where in order to harvest a lake trout, one would have to first have a bass limit in your possession.  That was suggested by a local angler, and although we haven’t tried it, its intriguing.  Tough to do in the winter, though.

 

Thanks for your email and suggestions!  I’ve copied (blank) on your email and this response because he is also concerned about lake trout, and is on the DNR committee currently writing a statewide management guide for the species.  He can make sure that committee has a regulation discussion (and I’m sure they will).

 

I sent out a response to this email a few days after I received it, thanking him for his time and input, and a few additional suggestions (I never got a response back on that one). 

 

I feel he made some valid points... I agreed with him about there needing to be more lake specific slot limits, but threw out the state-wide slot as at least a good starting point. I also agreed on the impact of catch and release during the summer. I once released a beauty of a trout I jigged up in August on an inland lake that more than likely perished after the release.... after that, I decided to hang up the laker gear during the heat of the summer and chase other fish till the water cools again (I suggested a possible season closure from July-Sept).  He's also right about the smallmouth.  No one keeps the darn things, so it's really impossible to manage their numbers once established in a lake. And if the studies from Ontario are accurate, it seems that a pelagic forage base is the key for their coexistence, which makes sense to me.  After thinking on it, I'm not a fan of the idea for an "earn-a-laker" regulation, and I highly doubt that would go over very good. 

 

It'll be interesting to see what happens with this management plan. Whether or not the climate will for sure warm enough to kill off the remaining laker populations is uncertain at this point.  It might, or might not... depends on your religion, I guess... ;) Regardless, I really want the DNR to invest a lot more effort into preserving the populations we do have. Like the moose, it's a very unique species we have in MN, and I want anything in our control to be done to preserve what is left of them. I'm not going to hold my breath, however.... 

Edited by BRULEDRIFTER
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JBMasterAngler

I never got a response. Apparently the DNR doesn’t like me.

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BRULEDRIFTER

Who did you send it to? 

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Wanderer

Thanks @BRULEDRIFTER, I enjoyed reading his comments and seeing what they DO know.

 

As far as smallies go: keep some and eat some!  I’ve been a “Bass Guy” and still enjoy them for C&R sport but don’t have an issue keeping some for meals.  And smallies taste great.  They can obviously sustain and probably benefit from it too for size structure.

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biff

I'd like to see more lakes with a protected slot for smallmouth. It doesn't take a lot of pressure for some of these smaller lakes to get fished down for bigger fish and end up with mostly smaller bass. Sure, don't put one on lake trout lakes...I get that. I don't really think keeping more bass is going to help though. My opinion you just end up with a bunch of stunted bass.

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delcecchi

So, is it kill and eat or catch and release for smallies?     As far as I am concerned those 12 to 15 inchers are tasty.   

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