April 3, 2016

Resorters are voicing “unrest” over DNR’s live bait ban for Mille Lacs according to a Star Tribune story today. And they should.

It’s bad enough that walleye fishing on Mille Lacs under DNR ”co-management” has declined to catch and release only and no live bait. So non-tribal walleye “safe allowable harvest” this year is now zero.

Actually it’s less than zero, because hooking mortality counts against the zero harvest, putting walleye anglers into negative territory. Once hooking mortality reaches a “negative” harvest of 28,600 pounds, it’s shutdown for walleye fishing on Mille Lacs.

It’s much like the night fishing ban that was put in place to address the walleye problem. DNR’s latest scattershot no-live-bait-solution also manages to gummy things up for all other angling on Mille Lacs.

Even worse, no-live-bait ”would wipe out $2 million a year in local sales of live bait and related fishing tackle” according to Steve Johnson, Advisory Committee member.

Some Committee members are also pushing back for another reason. They never had a chance to weigh in on the possibility of a no-live-bait solution!

The DNR must have been listening at the meeting where they were ripped by the Committee’s own biostatistics expert, for basing their “hooking mortality” formula on outdated assumptions. They learned that artificial bait is used more these days than when their hooking mortality formula was first designed. And that mortality is reduced with artificial bait. But the DNR did not bring up the possibility of a catch-and-release season coupled with only artificial bait. The “Advisory” Committee never had a chance to discuss it.

Read more.

Doug Meyenburg, President