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to all the people complaining about the slots


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I've been doing a lot of reading on the whole baitfish thing and one thing has come to mind that nobody has talked about really. If the baitfish population is the reason you think the lake is going to crash you may want to rethink the thoughts on taking the big fish out. Its not the big fish that are going to keep baitfish numbers down and taking big walleyes out is not going to bring the baitfish back. Its the smaller walleyes in a system that ravishes the young of the year baitfish. Refer to Lake Oahes management and the fact that the SD DNR wants young walleyes removed. The reason: young walleyes are the hardest on Lake Oahe's smelt population. So in my opinion...given all the info i've taken in...the fish that are targeted in the slot...and the walleyes under the slot...are the fish in Mille Lacs that are the key to bringing the baitfish population back. Those are the fish that are going to rip up and destroy this years potential good baitfish hatch. Those are the fish that will keep the baitfish from coming back to good levels.

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An excellent point is the forage issue.

We must consider forage patterns as they relate to predator forage size preferences.

Walleye will eat anyone and about anything dead or alive if they feel the need. As they age their preferences change dramatically and often change from season to season.

Younger walleye by virtue of shear numbers can raise havoc on minnow populations as well as on young perch populations.

To control long term forage patterns often management looks at the population of the younger predators present in the system to control and hopefully balance anew the forage base.

The greater the forage options in a system the less of a factor the numbers game plays on the younger class’s of predators as well as on the adult predators.

The more forage options that are available will offer more cushions for the system as a whole.

This was the great lesson learned on the big reservoirs and should be considered critical management criteria for large lakes as well.

Backwater Eddy..><,sUMo,>

Backwater Guiding
"Ed on the RED"

[email protected]


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The Oahe situation is different. First of all, it's not a natural ecosystem. Fake lake, stocked predator fish, stocked prey fish. A "created" resource, if you will. I'll try not to take too much space here because it's off topic, but.....

Walleye fishing on Oahe has been great for the last 6-8 years. Many limits of big fish. More fishing pressure than ever before in the lake's history. Then along comes a couple of very high water years. Two things happened.

Several tremendously successful year classes of walleye....and....the tubes kept wide open all summer long to release "excess" water.

Over a two year span, during the hot summer months, a large portion of the smelt population was sucked down river through the intake tubes that sit at 80' near the dam.

Angling pressure removed too many large walleyes from the system. Corp of Engineer policy removed too many smelt from the system. Nature provided several strong year classes of small walleyes in a row.

The result is a lake in imbalance. The GF&P wants people to keep small walleyes because they are the ones in overpopulation that are ravaging the young smelt before they have a chance to reach adulthood and spawning maturity. There are very few large walleyes in the system, so those are almost completely protected from harvest. The GF&P encourages people to stay out of deep water during the summer so if you do hook a larger fish, the chances of hooking mortality are reduced.

This management has been somewhat successful. Smelt populations are coming back with no thanks to the Corp of Engineers who insist on lowering water levels right after the smelt spawn (leaving the eggs high and dry!). Compared to last year, the GF&P has reduced the limits of small fish one can keep, although the limits are still liberal when compared to the normal limit of four walleyes.

So, in reality, the situation on Oahe is a good example of managing a lake back to a level of health that is good for sport fishing. I do have a lot of questions as to why the lake was allowed to fall into this state in the first place, but that's for another discussion.

I guess my point is that an excess of smaller walleyes can do just as much damage to the prey population as an overpopulation of larger walleyes. Oahe is different in that the adult smelt head to extremely deep water during warm summer months, where they are primarily only fed on by salmon, trout and pike. The GF&P has suspended the stocking of salmon and trout until the lake comes back into "balance".

Mille Lacs prey fish have no place to go for summer safety. The lake is too shallow and walleyes, northerns and muskies are licking their collective chops at all depths of the lake. The MN DNR can't suspend walleye spawning on Mille Lacs until the prey fish have a chance to re-establish themselves. There is no stocking program to suspend.

We all know the position the MN DNR is in vis-a-vis Mille Lacs. To compare it to Oahe is inappropriate in this context.

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