Dave Orrick in the Pioneer Press commented on the closure of walleye fishing on Mille Lacs. He had questions about state leadership, as did Joe Fellegy. (PERM summary of Fellegy article and Fellegy Outdoor News article.)
The DNR and Dayton had said walleye fishing would remain open, in “an apparent violation of treaty protocols.” Last year the DNR closed fishing in early August when the kill limit was reached. This year Governor Dayton said the season would stay open, even after the hooking mortality “harvest” was more than 50% over the quota.
Then Gov. Dayton announced a closure would come on September 6th.
The DNR may have tried to signal a post-quota walleye season by saying earlier this month that they “believed the increased hooking mortality was actually not harming the lake’s walleye population.” This came after pre-season warnings of a “fairly high probability” of closure by August 1 if live bait use wasn’t banned. It was banned–but then restored “after local businesses objected.”
Reversal of the walleye season extension came, in turn, after strong pushback by the Mille Lacs band. Their response included the possibility of lawsuits. The tribe was said to be “displeased” with the walleye season remaining open after the quota was reached. What about all the anglers, resort owners, and taxpayers being a little bit displeased?
Dayton took credit for keeping the walleye season open through Labor Day, after which fishing pressure (and hooking mortality) slows down. Unfortunately, Dayton could take all the credit since the Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee only knew about the closure when it was announced at their last meeting.
It might help if it’s remembered that the State is ultimately responsible for managing all the natural resources in Minnesota.
Douglas Meyenburg, President PERM