Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The most pressing issue on my mind this week was the decision made by the DNR and the tribal officials in regard to the walleye harvest for 2013 on Lake Mille Lacs. I know that resorters and guides as well as anglers are devastated, partly because the economic impact on the area and the state will be in the millions.
Thus, I met with DNR Fishery officials on Thursday to hear their reasoning for slashing the harvest of walleyes. They assured me that they remain focused on the long-term health of the lake's fishery.
Among the information the officials shared is as follows: their September net catches to collect data were lowest on record; the decline may be related to high mortality focused on younger ages of fish before they swim to the spawning stock and this may be caused by predator fish like northern pike and smallmouth bass; the number of males has declined the most.
As a result, the 1837 Ceded Territory Fisheries Technical Committee decided last weekend to set the safe harvest level for walleye for 2013 at a total of 250,000 pounds but the word got out too early. The DNR had planned to visit with folks from Mille Lacs before making the decision public, but the tribal officials leaked the information.
The decision: The Ojibwe tribes will reduce to 71,000 pounds and the balance - about 180,000 pounds will be for sport anglers. Ironically the number for us is the same as the typical hooking morality. And, if fishing is good - like it was this past season and this winter - watch out. We could reach that limit rather quickly.
In closing, the meeting between the Mille Lacs Input Fisheries group representing sport anglers, guides and resorters will be held in late February in the usual location in Aitkin County.
In other news, please plan to attend our townhall meetings on Saturday, Feb. 9. The locations and times are as follows:
7:00AM - K-Bob Cafe in Princeton
8:15AM - Hi-Way Cafe in Milaca on North Central Avenue
9:15AM - Ground House Coffee Shop in Ogilvie on Hwy 23
10:45AM - City Hall in Isle
11:30AM - Wahkon Restaurant & Bar on Hwy 27
12:30PM - Onamia Veterans Club at the Intersection of 169/27
I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you about your thoughts and concerns about legislation at the Capitol, and hope you will be able to attend.
Have a wonderful weekend,
209 State Office Building