Steve Johnson, Johnson’s Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR’s new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee’s meetings as they happen.

December 17 Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee Update – – Posted December 18

DNR presented the group with the fall assessment data for Mille lacs. The data collection practices that they have used for 40 yrs (slightly modified) is still used today to implement Treaty Fishery Management. A 20% margin of error is acceptable to the DNR (it was claimed 30% a few years ago, but 20% sounds better). Why is this important? If you apply that margin of error to some of the below average year classes, they will jump into or above average.

The 2013 year class ( now 13″-15″) is very strong. The DNR has made the decision to protect this large year class at all costs. This has never been done before, to manipulate the rules to protect 1 yr class in my opinion is wrong. I made it very clear to the entire room that that decision was made and implemented solely by the DNR. They will own that move good or bad. In the past history of Mille lacs, it will produce a good to great yr class every 4-8yrs. We can call that time frame the “pause” because a big year class will eat EVERYTHING until well fed, then there will be room for another one. This cycle can be seen on almost all of the historic data. Point being that we used to harvest some of those walleyes to thin the EATING machine. Now that wont happen. I totally disagree with that decision.

I asked the DNR “what besides controlling angler harvest and pressure can you do to to fix your claimed issues?” Not one DNR employee could answer that question, in fact I saw numerous shoulders shrug and all of them looking to each other to answer… answer.

The next meeting will be addressing TFM on the legal side, it will be open to the public as always, we are expecting a large crowd, the public should be informed on how this came about and how it may be approached for modification or elimination.

I will let you chew on this and end with a trivia question.

How many millions of dollars has the State of Minnesota paid out in the last 30 years to numerous Tribes, in exchange for not exercising some of their harvest rights? Its a huge number and a compromise of this type should be explored with the Bands. As well as offering up my Walleye Replacement Program.

Give me your best guess.


Steve Johnson Report

Steve Johnson, Johnson’s Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR’s new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee’s meetings as they happen.

Mille Lacs Lake Doesn’t Need FIXING – – Posted October 31

The management practice need to be completely CHANGED.

Most of the data that I observed was “average”, nothing to be alarmed about in my opinion. Using Data that is not accurate (+/- 30%) and applying it to the Treaty Fisheries Management approach that requires accuracy falls into the definition of insanity.

The DNR can only manage anglers, they have no control on how the lake cycles, never have and never will. the history clearly shows an ecosystem that ebbs and flows, goes up and down, has good decades and bad years, Yet she fixes herself over and over. For instance the TULIBEE have made a miraculous recovery, there are 3 year classes that apparently knew the trick to get around “Global climate warming changeup” or whatever its called this month. How did that happen?

Many eyes are wide OPEN going into this new advisory group. This will not become an INSERT group as the last one became over the last 5 years.

The first meeting was simply to lay out the intended ground rules for the group, all of which in my opinion is simply a directive to keep order. The course the group takes will be dependent on information that is or is not provided by the DNR, but also what we hear from the general public and what the group itself puts on the agenda. EVERYTHING will be on the table this time. EVERYTHING!


Steve Johnson Report

Steve Johnson, Johnson’s Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR’s new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee’s meetings as they happen and we present the rest of it here.

MLFAC meeting #2: Rebuilding the trust with the DNR. October 22

I won’t say our second meeting was a waste of time, but for the most part it was just that.

  1. Deja Vu was felt once the DNR put the “BOX” of 3 choices of regulations on the power point screen. I saw this coming and had made up my mind to protest the voting process for the time being and force the DNR to make the choice and thus receive the GLORY from the Press. They in no way can say that the MLFAC made the recommendation. We clearly put the decision in their hands. Basically it was a 1 fish bag from either 18″-20″ or 19″-21″ both of which they claim will keep us under the 5000# cap for the winter. Who the Hell came up with this 5000# cap? We will never know.
  2. No one from the MLFAC was allowed to attend the DNR/TRIBAL technical meeting as they promised. We, “the old advisory group,” have asked for this for 10 years and had smoke blown in our rears. Now the smoke is blowing again, something about COURT WORDING that does not allow it. ???????? Who is driving this boat of Management?
  3. The Northern pike reg was handled the same way, little to no info provided and looking for us to make a decision to keep the status quo or something else. We again chose to let the DNR take the credit for whatever regulation they come up with. More glory from the press for them.
  4. We did have some constructive conversation among the group and came up with a list of future topics. On this list is TFM, TREATY FISHERIES MANAGEMENT, the management system that we all live and die by on Mille Lacs. All of this mess I can directly blame the TFM system. It is impossible to come up with a topic on the lake that is not directly related to and affected by TFM, and rarely is it a positive outcome. We got it on the discussion board for a future meeting, to dissect it, evaluate it, enhance it, remove it entirely, those choices are all on the table for the group to recommend to the DNR. Now that I will be happy to get blamed for.
  5. We asked that the DNR to stop the negative “false 30-year low” press releases, we are well past any 30-year low, they can’t seem to tell the truth very often.
  6. We all agreed that the “closure” clause be removed and C&R used in its place. To have them hang a “closure” clause over our heads is RIDICULOUS during a season of zero mortality on walleyes.
  7. The meeting went late…who cares. They seemed more concerned about the timing than the subject matter.