Joe Fellegy has some choice comments about another ‘C’ word. He quotes Steve Johnson (Johnson’s Portside on Mille Lacs) “Stop using the C-word!”, the Mille Lacs walleye population is in no crisis!”

Fellegy highlights the misleading vocabulary being used to set a up straw man excuse for a “downward swing of the Mille Lacs walleye population.” That explanation is a cover for “sudden dramatic and continuing plunge in the political walleye quota.” Then he details the fallout from “the corrosive state-tribal co-management,” which Fisheries personnel dismiss as merely being “cautious and conservative.”

Fellegy mentions “unprecedented distrust” and “ongoing uncertainty.” These are hallmarks of the “playing out of ‘treaty rights’ and related management.” They also serve a warning for the “treaty rights” claims coming out of litigation deliberately initiated over the 1855 Treaty and ceded territory.

Fellegy may be the first to report (but only a mention) on Gov. Walz’ Executive Order requiring “Tribal-State Relations Training” in 24 state agencies. Including the DNR. That again raises transparency issues. (And a question of whether it’s more about sensitivity or agenda.)

See Joe Fellegy’s comments in his article below (longer but worth the read.)

MLFAC Meeting April 30

If these comments raise concerns, be sure to attend the Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee meeting on 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at McQuoid’s Inn and Event Center, 1325 State Highway 47 in Isle. The agenda will cover an open water season update and a lake management planning discussion.

PERM encourages its members, and concerned citizens to attend. Take advantage of the 15 minutes reserved for public comments and questions.

MN-Fish, Mille Lacs ‘C’-words, and the opaque

Joe Fellegy    Rocking the Boat    Outdoor News, April 25, 2019

Managing Editor Rob Drieslein’s March 29 editorial introduced readers to the new MN-Fish Sportfishing Foundation & Coalition. The group’s stated mission is to provide “a strong voice” at the State Capitol for Minnesota “anglers, clubs, local organizations, and industry stakeholders.” Big stuff!

The MN-Fish officers and board members do represent a wide range of Minnesota fishing interests: President, Ron Schara (Schara Enterprises); Vice President, John Peterson (Northland Fishing Tackle); Treasurer, Dave Osborne (Clam Outdoors; Secretary, Chip Leer (Fishing the Wildside); Tom Mackin (Rapala), Babe Winkelman (Winkelman Productions), Steve Pennaz (Pennaz Multi-Media), Frankie Dusenka (Frankie’s Marine), Jeff Arnold (Reed Family Outfitters), Dick Sternberg (Hunting & Fishing Library), Tom Neustrom (Neustrom Fishing Promotions), Craig Wilson (Lake Superior Steelhead Assoc.), Garry Leaf (Sportsmen for Change), and Jay Pederson (MN-Fish Legal Counsel).

These MN-Fish founders cite the state’s thousands of lakes and stream miles, and rightly emphasize the prominence of fishing in Minnesota’s culture, economy, and history. A main worry is that except for a few species groups, like Muskies, Inc. and Trout Unlimited, the state’s sport-fishing community has no united and influential voice.

Among MN-Fish’s stated concerns are declines in fishing-license sales and kid fishing, fewer stocking programs, aquatic habitat issues, and a lack of “major new investments” in fish hatcheries, public accesses, fishing piers, and shore-fishing facilities. And they want Minnesota’s state fish, the walleye, to have lobbying representation at the Capitol.

While MN-Fish has received strong support across outdoor media, this new statewide sport-fishing group surely faces big challenges. What will they lobby for and against? Their positions on particular fishing-related issues? How will they navigate the local and statewide tangle of fisheries science, politics, and law?

Consider the power balance — local governments, state legislators, Governor’s office, DNR, Attorney General, and sometimes the feds and tribal governments. Who can, should, or shouldn’t, do what and where to boost sport fishing? What will our anglers’ new voice preach?

Interesting specifics are sure to come. I especially like a MN-Fish goal of getting overdue state funding for a new and larger Minnesota Fishing Museum/Hall of Fame/Education Center, especially if it stays in the Little Falls region.

The new MN-Fish organization’s website, with individual and group membership info, is Mailing address: P. O. Box 522, Walker, MN 56484.

Mille Lacs ‘C’-words

Steve Johnson, proprietor of Johnson’s Portside Bait & Liquor in Isle, Minn., uses his website ( and Facebook link to update followers on Mille Lacs fishing and tourism topics, plus his opinions (like ‘em or not) on Mille Lacs fishery issues. His most popular post in recent months was his March 31 lecture to media: “Stop using the C-word!” Hey, the Mille Lacs walleye population is in no crisis!

Sadly, the negative vocabulary attached to the endless Mille Lacs crapstorm, via media reports and citizen chatter, includes “crisis” plus many more misguided and misleading false powerwords: collapse, crash, disappeared, dwindling, diminished, down, dropping, demise, slide, skid, tanked, struggling, slumping, shrunk, imploded. Etc. Etc. Hey, there is no Mille Lacs walleye absence, dearth, or void!

A graphic in the March 29 Outdoor News showed what many readers misinterpreted as a huge downward swing of the Mille Lacs walleye population, starting in 2012-2013. No! What the chart actually showed was a sudden dramatic and continuing plunge in the political walleye quota (“safe allowable harvest”), which is not proportional to, or indicative of, the lake’s walleye population!

The real Mille Lacs “crisis” is in the extremist, unjustified, and unethical political state-tribal co-management of Minnesota’s all-time classic natural walleye lake. Yes, ongoing updates about changing angling regs, nearness to quotas (even when no walleye-keeping is allowed), fishery assessments, and public reactions are newsworthy. DNR press releases and management of a major fishery naturally trigger a news flow — yes, often negative for Mille Lacs — from the pages of Outdoor News to diverse media across Minnesota and beyond. It’s gotta be covered.

Don Pereira, former Minnesota Fisheries chief, called the DNR-controlled Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group “corrosive” and disbanded them in 2015, replacing that group with the present Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee (MLFAC). Yes, Input Group members became unruly after 15 years of being used as cover for unnecessarily strict fishing regs, with real citizen input discouraged by state personnel.

What’s really “corrosive” is the Mille Lacs co-management quota system, which has plunged the Mille Lacs fishing community, including DNR, into the biggest ongoing public-relations nightmare in the histories of Minnesota fishing, fisheries management, fishing-related economy, and our fishing culture.

One bottom line is that Mille Lacs management in recent years — with super-tight walleye-angling restrictions, live-bait bans, unfair hooking-mortality penalties, and in-season “shutdowns” wherein anglers can’t even “target” walleyes — is not science-based and would never happen outside the corrosive state-tribal co-management. Yet Fisheries personnel defend the madness by saying they’re being cautious and conservative.

No 1837 Treaty ordered the specifics of 21st-century “management” at Mille Lacs and across the broader 12-county 1837 ceded territory of east-central Minnesota. And no ancient treaty or modern court ordered state government to be gutless in facing this unethical monster.

When laws and policies push way more negatives than positives, with the bad costs far outweighing any pluses, then we have a problem. Media academics, politicians, and government personnel who defend the policies are parts of the problem.

With Mille Lacs’ co-management by DNR and eight Chippewa bands, including six from Wisconsin, the negatives run deep: unprecedented distrust and scorn toward DNR’s Fisheries section, Mille Lacs avoidance by ticked-off and misled anglers, ongoing uncertainty about what comes next, and forcing the extended Mille Lacs fishing community under a never-lifting dark cloud.

The playing out of “treaty rights” and related management have made Mille Lacs the state’s biggest ongoing fishing issue and media spectacle. Many say there’s no end in sight. Meanwhile, Mille Lacs walleyes are plentiful, the bite can be hot, and there’s no crisis except in the government-political realm.

‘Transparency’ issues

Increasingly, journalists and politicians want less secrecy and more transparency, pushing the public’s right to know. But they’re often selective in demanding more information, leaving some powerplayers off the hook.

Recall the illegal gillnetting in Gull Lake several summers ago. Tribal attorneys wanted Chippewa tribal members charged for intentionally violating state law so they could make “treaty rights” claims and ascend the court ladder. The Minnesota Court of Appeals accepted the case earlier this year, and the tribal side filed their brief on April 8.

The case was narrowed to one gillnetter-defendant. The implications are huge for the 1855 Treaty ceded territory — thousands of square miles of central and northern Minnesota, from Mille Lacs to the Canadian border at one point. Who funds the tribal attorneys and their advisors, expert witnesses, and down-the-road costs? The involvement of which tribal governments?

Have Minnesota citizens, including tribal enrollees, ever seen the totals of federal and state funds going to tribal governments for what purposes? Tribal resource-management agencies like the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), a key player in Mille Lacs management?

On April 4, Gov. Tim Walz signed Executive Order 19-24, requiring personnel in 24 state agencies, including DNR, to receive “Tribal-State Relations Training” and engage in much “consultation” and “government-to-government conversations” with tribes. Details regarding the key players, narratives, policies, and costs?

Transparency, anyone?