Week of March 25, 2013

Beyond the Great Lakes
Fishing beyond the Great Lakes
National

Regional

For Your Health
General
Lake Erie

Illinois
Michigan
Minnesota
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Beyond the Great Lakes

More Feral pig problems

New Mexico launches $1 Million program targeting these critters

Feral hogs are a major problem for many states and cause upwards of a billion dollars in damage each year. The animals cause considerable damage to the environment and are especially dangerous to several species of ground-nesting birds. States affected by feral pigs often call upon hunters to cull the population, and many sportsmen prefer tackling the challenge. Hogs are cunning animals and adapt to hunting strategies. They also breed quickly.

 

New Mexico’s Game and Fish Department has had enough. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state is declaring war on the pigs and building an army to match. Over $1 million will go into training

and equipping state and federal employees to hunt feral hogs.

This massive hog task force will be bolstered by an accompaniment of helicopters and sportsmen. Wild hog in New Mexico, like in many other states, can be harvested without a license by residents all year round.

 

This army of pig hunters will try to defeat the problem before it gets worse. Five million feral hogs exist in the United States, and have chewed a destructive path through Mississippi, Texas, and over two-thirds of New Mexico among other states. For now, the state has a chance, and wildlife managers want to make the most of it.

 

Nearby Texas spends nearly $7 million dollars on their pig management plans–the state contains almost half of all feral hogs in the nation. Data and techniques gained from New Mexico’s program will be shared with other state agencies to help contain the species - if it works.


 

Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

Commercial Fishing Tournament Nets 40 Tons of Asian Carp
Two of Kentucky’s most important fishing spots–those used both commercially and for recreation–are under attack by a large number of Asian carp. The invasive species pose an economic threat to states across the country and even worse, disrupt native environments by consuming vast amounts of plankton.

 

Visitors to Kentucky and Barkley lakes report sighting vast schools of the fish just below the surface. “They grow large–a bighead carp caught in Missouri weighed 111 pounds–and breed prolifically,” said Ron Brooks, fisheries director for the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (DFWR). “Young sport fish like crappie and bass, and other plankton feeders such as paddlefish, shad, and buffalo, are being robbed of the food they need to thrive.”

 

Now the DFWR is fighting back, with a lot of help from commercial fishermen. The department is kicking off an increased focus on Asian carp with their Carp Madness Tournament, which took place last week on

Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Twenty-one commercial fishing teams from

around the country enlisted to take on the invasive species. According to the department, the two-day tournament ended with nearly 83,000 pounds of Asian carp removed from the lakes.

 

Volunteers stood watch and made sure any sportfish that were caught in the nets were returned to the water safely. Asian carp, however, were hauled aboard in droves.

 

“We were in them all day long,” said fisherman Barry Mann. “They were still jumping around the boat when we had to leave. What we went for was 20,000 pounds. We were pleased with our weight.”

 

Mann’s team snagged the top prize of $10,000 with 28,670 pounds of carp.  “The 40 tons of carp removed during this tournament is not insignificant, but this is only a drop in the proverbial bucket,” said Brooks. “The results were as clear as is the message: We must employ the commercial industry to remove Asian carp.”

 

To that end the department is calling for donations to help fund future tournaments and carp-related projects.  “This problem was not manufactured by Kentuckians, but it is us who need to attack it now, before the Asian carp cause insurmountable harm to our aquatic resources,” Brooks urged.


 

National

USFWS Announces $882.4 Million in User-Generated Funding to State Wildlife Agencies

Hunters, Anglers, and Other Recreational Users Provide Support for Critical Conservation Projects

 More than $882.4 million in excise tax revenues generated in 2012 by sportsmen and sportswomen will be distributed to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

 

These funds are made available to all 50 states and territories through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs. Revenues come from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

 

“The sporting community has provided the financial and spiritual foundation for wildlife conservation in America for more than 75 years,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Through these programs, hunters, anglers, recreational boaters and target shooters continue to fund vital fish and wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access, and hunter and aquatic education programs.”

 

“The financial support from America’s hunting, shooting sports, fishing and boating community through their purchases of excise taxable equipment and hunting and fishing licenses is the lifeblood for funding fish and wildlife conservation; supporting public safety education; and opening access for outdoor recreation that benefits everyone,” said Jeff Vonk, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. “Fish and wildlife can be conserved, protected and restored through science-based management

and it is critical that all these taxes collected be apportioned to advance

conservation efforts in the field.”

 

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2013 totals $522.5 million. The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2013 totals $359.9 million. As a result of the statutorily required sequester, these apportionments have been reduced by 5.1 percent, or approximately $39.2 million. Additional Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration grant funding to the states has also been reduced, for a total sequestration-related reduction of approximately $44 million.

 

The Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program reimburses up to 75 % of the cost of each eligible project while state fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 %, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-Federal match.

Funding is paid by manufacturers, producers, and importers, and distributed by the USFWS to each state/territory. For information on funding for each state, visit www.fws.gov/home/feature/2013/pdf/Master_apport_table_Final_2013.pdf.

 

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have generated a total of more than $15.3 billion since their inception – in 1937 in the case of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, and 1950 for the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program – to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched these program funds with more than $5.1 billion. This funding is critical to sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and providing opportunities for all to connect with nature.

 

Please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program website at wsfrprograms.fws.gov/ for more information on the goals and accomplishments of these programs and for individual state, commonwealth, and territorial funding allocations.


 

Regional

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for March 22, 2013

WEATHER CONDITIONS

 The Great Lakes basin experienced significant precipitation this week with the heaviest precipitation recorded in the Huron and Erie basins. Temperatures in the Great Lakes Basin remained below average throughout the week. There is a chance of snow in the Lakes Superior, Erie and Michigan Basins entering the weekend. Expect precipitation to diminish and temperatures to remain steady as the weekend continues.

LAKE LEVEL CONDITIONS

The water level of Lake Superior is 1 inch below its level of one year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 13 inches lower. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 16, 18, and 15 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are forecasted to rise 2 and 4 inches, respectively. The water levels of Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are expected to increase 6, 5 and 7 inches, respectively, over the next thirty days.

FORECASTED MONTHLY OUTFLOWS/CHANNEL CONDITIONS

Lake Superior's outflow through the St. Marys River is projected to be below average for the month of March. Lake Huron's outflow into the St. Clair River and the outflow from Lake St. Clair into the Detroit River are also expected to be below average throughout the month of March. Lake Erie's outflow through the Niagara River is predicted to be below average

and the outflow of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River is expected to be below average in March.

ALERTS

Official records are based on monthly average water levels and not daily water levels. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum. Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels. Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for Aug 4

600.1

576.3

572.8

570.6

244.7

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

-12

-14

+6

+17

+17

Diff last month

-1

+2

+6

+2

+3

Diff from last yr

-1

-13

-16

-18

-15


 

General

Cornell researchers develop nonlethal test for VHSV

fish virus

ITHACA, N.Y. — Cornell University researchers developed a new, nonlethal test for the deadly viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus that afflicts many species of wild fish. Until now, testing for viral hemorrhagic septicemia Virus (VHSV) meant killing the fish being tested.

The current method to test if a body of water has infected fish requires sampling the major organs from many indigenous fish. In a study published in March's Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, VHSV was detected from fin and gill tissue biopsies, which cause little harm to collect.

 

“We were concerned about how many fish we were sampling for surveillance,” said Cornell graduate student Emily Cornwell, first author of the study. “Up until this point, all of our sampling was lethal. We want to avoid taking fish that are important for sport or that are protected.” Because the virus can span multiple regions, thousands of fish are typically tested, said co-author Rod Getchell, senior research associate in microbiology and immunology.

 

Fish infected with VHSV display signs of external and internal bleeding, and commonly die within a few weeks. VHSV infection remains incurable, so minimizing its presence is paramount.  Testing fish for the European strains of VHSV from samples collected nonlethally has been possible since 2009. However, “The Great Lakes genotype has only been known since 2005, so its pathogenesis has not been as well-studied,” said Cornwell. “Even though the viruses are similar, they have different hosts they can infect.”

 

This less harmful sampling will allow for more thorough and long-term

VHSV studies, such as tracking the disease's progression.

To test whether the Great Lakes VHSV strain could be detected from less

invasive samples, the researchers collected small clips of tissue from the fins and gills of fish injected with VHSV. RNA extracted from fins and gills revealed a viral presence as successfully as RNA from several internal organs – the current, but lethal, sample.

 

The traditional method also only successfully identified the virus about 50 percent of the time in one of the fish types used in the study, even though the fish were exposed to a million copies of virus. "The traditional viral isolation technique is not as sensitive, which is why we chose to inject the fish – that way, we knew for sure that all of the fish were exposed," said Cornwell.

 

Regulations dictate that fish must be tested using the traditional viral isolation method, said Getchell. "For example, if you want to move fish from the Great Lakes -- a restricted area, you will have to use the approved techniques. The molecular techniques, even though they're more sensitive, are not part of the regulations yet," said Getchell.

 

Getchell remains hopeful that this study will help "tip the world in the molecular direction. The evidence is mounting, so, slowly, the rules will change."

 

The study, "Fin and Gill Biopsies Are Effective Nonlethal Samples for Detection of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus genotype IVb," was funded by Cornell's New Visions Life Sciences Program, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the New York Sea Grant Program and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


 

For Your Health

Calls for greater awareness of potentially fatal Lyme disease

Potentially deadly to humans, Lyme disease is a high-profile vector-borne infection that is increasing in significance in the UK and consequently impacting on countryside planning and management. With more people working or recreating in the countryside, there is a need for land-based organisations to manage potential risks.

A recently published paper in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management suggests that land-based organisations should increase communications regarding the risk of contracting Lyme disease, citing an accessible resource base which provides accurate and consistent information that can be tailored to different audiences to be a potential solution.

The paper explores the role of risk communication as a tool for preventing staff or the wider publics contracting Lyme disease. Through interviews with representatives of land-based organisations and content analysis of

information they provide, the article focuses on the relationship between

organisational attitudes towards Lyme disease and the information they provide. While there is an appetite for a consistent approach to communicating about Lyme disease, it would appear that there is currently no clear agreement over the level of information that should be communicated, how and to whom.

The article concludes that most of the organisations included in this study produce their own information on ticks and Lyme disease, but that a common approach to information provision would be appealing, allowing for flexibility to target particular audiences. The paper continues to suggest that greater interaction between health authorities and land-based organisations would be beneficial in the battle against this infection.

Read the full article online at www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09640568.2012.660569


 

Lake Erie

Annual Walleye Migration Underway on Maumee and Sandusky Rivers

Daily bag limit is four walleye until April 30

COLUMBUS, OH – The annual appearance of migrating walleye in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers brings fantastic spring fishing opportunities, according to the Ohio DNR.

 

An annual phenomenon in northwest Ohio occurs each spring when a portion of Lake Erie’s walleye population moves up the Maumee and Sandusky rivers to spawn. Although the fish caught represent a small portion of all Lake Erie walleye, the run brings hundreds of thousands of fish within casting distance of eager shore anglers.

 

Walleye spawning normally occurs in these rivers anytime from mid-March through mid-April, but the peak activity usually occurs the first week of April when the water temperatures range from 40 to 50 degrees. Moderately-high water also increases the number of walleye in the rivers, especially if river temperatures are warmer than lake temperatures.

 

The best fishing areas in the Maumee River are from Orleans Park in Perrysburg upstream to the end of Jerome Road in Lucas County. Sandusky River anglers will find better success from Brady’s Island to Rodger Young Park in the city of Fremont. Fishing is prohibited upstream from Rodger Young Park to the Ballville Dam.

 

Anglers are reminded the bag limit for Lake Erie and its tributaries is four walleye until April 30. Anglers are also reminded that there is a year-round 15-inch length limit for walleye on Lake Erie and its tributaries to the first dam or designated landmark. Anglers can see the latest on the walleye bite or review the 2013-2014 Ohio Fishing Regulations at wildohio.com.

Fishermen who are wading also need to ensure they are prepared to experience an unexpected cold water immersion and should consider wearing a flotation device as well as fish with a partner. Though most anglers wade in the rivers while walleye fishing, some choose to fish from boats. ODNR advises boat anglers to always properly wear life jackets, take precautions against overloading their boats and capsizing, be well dressed to avoid the onset of hypothermia and be prepared to handle any emergency. Boats should never be anchored off the stern.

Special regulations are in effect for Maumee and Sandusky river walleye fisheries during March and April. Fishing is only allowed between sunrise and sunset in specified areas, and treble hooks are prohibited. Anglers may only use a single hook that is no larger than 1 inch from shank to point. Only fish that are hooked inside the mouth may legally be taken, and any snagged fish must be immediately released.

The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program, continue to fund ODNR Division of Wildlife fish management operations. No state tax dollars are used for these activities. These are user-pay, user-benefit programs.

 

The SFR is a partnership between federal and state government, industry and anglers/boaters. When anglers purchase rods, reels, fishing tackle, fish finders and motor boat fuel, they pay an excise tax. The federal government collects these taxes, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education and acquire and develop boat accesses.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at www.ohiodnr.com.


 

Illinois

Illinois’ 2013 Spring Trout Fishing Season Opens April 6
Rainbow Trout stocked at more than 40 locations through out Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The 2013 spring trout fishing season in Illinois will begin at 5 a.m. on Saturday, April 6, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller announced today.

 

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1“Here in Illinois, we are committed to providing ways for families and children to get outdoors and enjoy nature, and the spring trout season is a great opportunity to do just that,” Miller said.  “Anglers of all ages can join in the fun as we stock trout at 42 locations throughout the state.”

 

The IDNR stocks more than 60,000 rainbow trout each spring in bodies of water where trout fishing is permitted during the spring season.  The Illinois catchable trout program is fully funded through the sale of inland trout stamps to those anglers who participate.

 

Illinois fishing licenses and inland trout stamps are available at DNR Direct license and permit locations, including many bait shops, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets.  For a location near you:  http://dnr.illinois.gov/DNRDirectMonitor/VendorListing.aspx

 

Fishing licenses and trout stamps can also be purchased by using a credit card through DNR Direct online via the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov, or by calling DNR Direct toll-free at 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648).

 

To legally participate in the trout fishing program, anglers must have a valid Illinois fishing license and an inland trout stamp.  The annual fishing licenses for the 2013 season are valid through March 31, 2014.  Anglers may also purchase a 24-hour Illinois fishing license which includes trout fishing privileges for the 24-hour period the license is valid.  As of July 1, 2013, anglers must also purchase an inland trout stamp with their 24-hour license to be valid for trout season.

 

A license is required for fishing in Illinois unless the angler is otherwise exempt (under age 16, blind or disabled, or is an Illinois resident on active military service who is home on leave). Anglers may not take trout from any of the stocked sites until April 6 at 5 a.m.  Anyone attempting to take trout before the legal opening will be issued citations.  During the spring trout season the daily possession limit for trout is five fish.

 

While the statewide spring trout season opens at 5 a.m. on April 6, anglers are reminded to check in advance for any site-specific regulations and the opening time of their favorite trout fishing location.  For more information about the trout stocking program, contact the IDNR Division of Fisheries at 217/782-6424 or check the web site at www.ifishillinois.org.

 

Anglers should note that the Mill Race Pond in Boone County will not be operational for the spring trout season this year due to a pond draw down.  In addition, one of three ponds at Gebhard Woods State Park will not be utilized for trout season this year.  The other two ponds will receive the additional trout from that pond.


DuPage County, Ill. Deer Confirmed With CWD

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is working with the Illinois DNR to further test for chronic wasting disease after a deer tested positive in the district's Mallard Lake Forest Preserve. Officials said the infected animal was among 250 deer culled between November and mid-December as part of the forest preserve district's annual deer removal program. Of

the culled deer, 85 were tested for CWD.
 

The district has been doing annual testing since 2002, the same year CWD first was detected in extreme northern Illinois. This is the first confirmed case in DuPage County. Immediate plans include the culling and testing of another 20 deer.


 

Michigan

DNR hosts fishing regulations public meetings in western U.P. April 2, 3 & 4

The Michigan DNR will host multiple public meetings in April to discuss local fishing regulations in the Western Lake Superior Management Unit.

 

The meetings will be held:

  • Tuesday, April 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. (EDT) at the Ishpeming Township Hall, located at 1575 U.S. 41 in Ishpeming

  • Wednesday, April 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. (CST) at Gogebic Community College, located at E. 4946 Jackson Road in Ironwood

  • Thursday, April 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. (EDT) at the Portage Lake District Library, located at 58 Huron St. in Houghton

 

Several local regulation proposals will be discussed at the meetings, including the following:

  • Removal of the 30-inch minimum-size-limit for northern pike on

 

Gratiot Lake (Keweenaw County) and changed to the standard 24-          inch minimum-size-limit, two fish possession limit for the

2013 fishing season.

 

  • Change the walleye minimum-size-limit from 13-inches to 15-inches on Craig Lake State Park’s waters (Baraga County).

 

In addition, an overview of regulation changes for the 2013 Fishing Season will be presented, including the following:

  • Northern pike size and bag limits

  • Muskellunge one fish per season harvest limit

  • Dip netting season changes

 

For more information, contact fisheries biologist George Madison at madisong@michigan.gov or 906-353-6651, extension 119.


DNR Fisheries Division releases 2012 annual report
Highlights accomplishments and activities
A report highlighting the various activities of the Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division during 2012 has been produced and is now available online at www.michigan.gov/fishing. 

The 2012 Fisheries Division Annual Report summarizes the programs and work completed in the past calendar year by division staff in an effort to maintain and improve Michigan’s fishery. The report categorizes the division’s work into multiple sections, including fish and fish communities, habitat, people and partnerships.

The fish and fish communities section explains activities related to assessing and evaluating the health of Michigan’s lakes, streams and fish

hatchery systems; the habitat section describes activities related to
protecting and rehabilitating aquatic habitat; the people section explains
activities related to educating and reaching out to the public and regulations; and the partnerships section describes specific efforts to work with individuals and organizations interested in the fishery.

 

“This report offers Michigan citizens an overview of Fisheries Division’s management of the state’s fishing resources,” said Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “It also highlights why our fisheries are considered some of the best in the country.”

Input on the activities of Fisheries Division is encouraged by readers of the 2012 annual report. All communication can be shared by email through DNR-Fish-Accomplishments@michigan.gov


DNR Fisheries Division releases five-year strategic plan
The Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries Division has released the final version of a new five-year strategic plan that will guide its future management activities. The plan - titled Charting the Course: Fisheries Division’s Framework for Managing Aquatic Resources” - can be found online at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

The 2013-2017 Fisheries Division Strategic Plan provides a vision and relevant broad activities for managing the various components of Michigan’s fisheries, including its fish, their habitat, and engaging angler participation. It is designed to assist the division in meeting its long-standing responsibilities to protect, manage and enhance Michigan’s aquatic resources for the benefit of current and future generations.

“We are excited to provide citizens with this transparent strategy,” said

Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “It has taken over a year of intensive
work and public engagement to define what needs to be and can be accomplished. The plan will help us continue to provide some of the finest freshwater fishing opportunities in the world.”

 

The plan was developed through a process that engaged the public at large, constituent group leadership and Fisheries Division staff. More than 10,000 people provided input through online surveys or phone interviews describing their desires for future fisheries management activities. Additional public input was provided on the draft version of the plan, which was available online during January and February.

Fisheries Division staff is currently at work developing specific tactics that will be designed to meet the plan’s strategies, objectives and goals, using information provided by the public through the review process.


 

Minnesota

Mille Lacs Lake regulations changed to boost walleye population
Regulations that will limit the harvest of walleye and potentially increase the harvest of northern pike and smallmouth bass will be implemented on Mille Lacs Lake this spring as part of a multi-year effort to rebuild the lake’s legendary walleye population, according to the Minnesota DNR.

 

When the walleye season opens May 11, anglers will be able to keep walleye only between 18- and 20-inches or longer than 28 inches. All others must be immediately released. The possession limit is two, with only one longer than 28 inches.  Last year’s regulations allowed anglers to keep up to four walleye from 17- to 28-inches long. Only one fish could be longer than 28 inches.

 

“We want Mille Lacs to continue to be a world-class walleye fishing destination,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR fisheries chief. “Currently, the size and structure of the walleye population isn’t where we want it. We are committed to remedying the situation as quickly as possible through regulations that are designed to increase survival of the lake’s younger and smaller walleye.”

 

The agency is particularly interested in conserving the lake’s large 2008 year-class of walleye because no strong year-class is coming up behind these fish despite ample spawning stock and good hatches of young fish. Fish in this year-class are 15- to 17-inches in length.  In addition to new walleye regulations, the lake’s 27- to 40-inch protected slot regulation for northern pike will be narrowed to a 33- to 40-inch protected slot, with only one pike longer than 40 inches. The possession limit is three.

 

Similarly, the smallmouth bass bag limit and slot limit will be broadened to allow for more harvest. The new regulation is a 17- to 20-inch protected slot. The possession limit is six, with only one longer than 20 inches in possession. Previously, all smallmouth bass less than 21 inches had to be immediately released and the possession limit was one.

 

“The smallmouth bass and northern pike regulations are designed to protect smaller walleye until we have better information on what these predator species are eating,” said Peterson. “We’ll be starting a predator diet study this spring. Meanwhile, the regulations will allow anglers some

 

additional non-walleye harvest opportunities while also retaining solid

numbers of trophy-sized fish.”

 

The new regulations aim to keep the total walleye kill below the combined state-tribal 2013 safe harvest level of 250,000 pounds. Fishing regulations may be adjusted if angler kill is expected to be either too high or lower than the anticipated. This year’s safe harvest level is the lowest established since treaty management began in 1997.
 
Tom Jones, Mille Lacs Lake coordinator, said the agency modeled 33 different walleye regulations before determining the 18- to 20-inch harvest slot regulation was the best option for this angling season. “It protects males from the 2008 walleye year-class, it meets the goal of being small fish friendly, it allows anglers to keep a meal of fish, and given normal fishing conditions it should keep harvest within the state’s allocation.”

 

The DNR discussed a variety of potential regulations with the Mille Lacs Lake public input group during a Feb. 27 meeting and solicited email comments from the general public.  Jones said a 2-inch walleye harvest slot is not unprecedented on Mille Lacs, having been implemented in 2001, 2002 and 2007. He added the state’s walleye harvest has been below this year’s allocation level of 178,500 pounds four of the last 10 years and in 2005 the harvest was below 200,000 pounds.

 

The fundamental concern for fish managers is that not enough walleye are becoming big walleye because of increased mortality rates. A secondary concern is that mature male walleye numbers have decreased.  The lake is also becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. This is due largely to changes in the aquatic community, including the presence of unwanted aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussel, spiny water flea and Eurasian watermilfoil.

 

These factors, plus a state and tribal harvest management strategy that focused largely on walleyes in the 14- to 18-inch range, all have contributed to a declining walleye population.  Jones said despite the declining walleye population, winter walleye fishing was good, which typically suggests good fishing in spring, too.  For more information about Mille Lacs Lake fisheries management, go to www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.


 

Other Breaking News Items

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COMMENTARY: Salmon want ballast rules to remain
Everyone has been waiting for the other shoe to drop, this time on Lake Michigan’s salmon fishery. When aquatic invasive species disrupt the food web, alewives aren’t the only things that suffer. The salmon shrink and disappear.

 

Study: Asian carp spawn in more river areas than previously known, showing their adaptability
Asian carp are reproducing in more places and under more varied conditions than experts had believed they could, yet another reason to worry about the greedy invader’s potential to infest waterways and crowd out native species, scientists said Tuesday.

 

 

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the GLSFC, its officers or staff. 

Reproduction of any material by paid-up members of the GLSFC is encouraged but appropriate credit must be given. 

Reproduction by others without written permission is prohibited.

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