Letter to the Editor, Outdoor News

As I read the headline “Ojibwe leader says Mille Lacs not recovered yet,” (Star Tribune, Oct. 1, 2017), I said to myself, here we go again.

The story was a Q & A with Bradley Harrington Jr. The quote under his picture said that he thought “science ought to guide walleye harvest, not finances” – and I agree, as long as it’s sound science.

But I also think it’s unconscionable what management of the lake has done to the local economy.

The first question (of Harrington) mentioned a “greater walleye harvest” for anglers. This implies there was an actual harvest by anglers. There has been no harvest in the summer by anglers for the past two years, yet there has been a continual harvest by the bands with no interruption – of actual walleyes, not mythical post mortality poundage.

Harrington went on to say the lake is once again “struggling” – as our DNR keeps saying. He also said “the financial element should not be considered.” Which is true, but then he rounded out his answer with “preparing for tough times in a nature-focused industry should have been considered because that is good business.”

But how can businesses prepare for several years of slashed allocations due to obviously flawed data? Fishing has rarely been better than it was this summer. You can theorize all you want about the factors, but the fact remains, the lake is loaded with walleyes of all sizes right now. And not a single one has hit the fry pan in the past two summers.

Getting back to the “nature-focused” comment: For years, slot limits – not nature – have forced anglers to release eating-size walleyes that were outside the slot, only to allow them to grow bigger. The past two summers, anglers have had to release all walleyes – when the season wasn’t shut down to fishing for them.

The slot limits have built up giant eating machines of big walleyes though the years – and the DNR has admitted that. And now, the renowned class of 2013 that the DNR wants to protect – and has been virtually untouchable – is approaching the 20-inch range and is another giant eating machine. No wonder there is cannibalism.

It’s painfully obvious the Lake Mille Lacs walleye fishery has turned into a political battleground, with state anglers and businesses on the front line, and with the higher powers apparently wanting nothing to do with changing it.

Mille Lacs walleyes were alive and well long before computer programs and this type of “science” got involved.

Erik Jacobson, Garrison