From Joe Fellegy’s column in Outdoor News April 4, 2014

DNR announcements about record-low walleye, quotas, and “radical angling regs for pike, bass, and walleyes,” have triggered a firestorm of “public concern and disgust.”

Distrust of DNR and state leadership is growing. It comes from their focus on a flawed [co-management] system, rather than on “citizen-stakeholders and a Minnesota resource treasure.”

It’s all about “eco-system complexities.” Little mention is made of “spawning-time tribal gill-net fishing …. and the related ‘treaty fisheries management.’ “

Pike explosion? Now an alleged Northern Pike assault becomes one of those complexities. DNR then responds with regs to greatly increase the number of pike taken, including “A 10-pike limit. Darkhouse pike-spearing revived on waters famed for trophy pike and muskies. Pike season extended a month.” Yet there is little to justify such “radical ‘pro-active’ management” of pike. And it’s unlikely to draw attention away from the walleye fiasco.

Smallmouth bass regs The new, generous, smallmouth bass regs may also serve the same [unstated] agenda regarding walleye. Although the bass regs have generated a lot of static from bass pros. ‘Hooking mortality’ scam DNR adds “hooking mortality” to the catch-and-keep figure. The more regs force walleye anglers to catch and release, “the more they’re punished with hooking mortality.”

Not ‘common sense’ DNR is concerned about crash of smaller walleyes is about numbers. But “treaty management’s emphasis is on total pounds.” That means the walleye quota could be reached much more quickly.

A resource and ‘heritage’ surrender! Many Minnesotans are unaware that their state government has, in a real sense, surrendered half the Mille Lacs fish resource plus half the state’s management authority over a huge state asset–with all the economics, culture, and Minnesota outdoor heritage that attach. The ridiculous 50-50 state-tribal pike and perch allocations have long been in play. Several years ago tribal managers noted they could go for 50 percent of the annual safe harvest level (SHL) on walleyes too. …. Don Pereira, DNR Fisheries Chief, affirmed the system: “The Bands’ declaration is deducted from the total SHL and the balance is for State anglers. If the Bands’ declaration is greater than half the SHL, then they are reduced to half the SHL.”

Surely the 1998 Hunting and Fishing Amendment to Minnesota’s Constitution, as well as the 2008 Legacy Amendment, didn’t cut half the Mille Lacs fishery, traditionally Minnesota’s largest, from Minnesota’s outdoor heritage or from state management responsibility. Maybe DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Attorney General Lori Swanson, Governor Mark Dayton, and legislators on House and Senate natural-resources committees can elaborate.

Read more: Mille Lacs: DNR’s terrible disconnect, and what comes next? By Joe Fellegy Outdoor News–April 4, 2014