|"The Bait Shop"|
...(3-10) As the ice fishing season begins to wind down on Mille Lacs, folks are getting in their last few trips before the accesses give way. There are still a good number of folks using ATV's, walking and even a vehicle here and there. We recommend that you limit your travel to ATV's or good-old walking. As the frost comes out of the ground, some of the runnoff finds it's way to the boat ramps and access points, causing them to erode faster. There is no snow left on the ice. Expect the warmer temperatures, wind and rain to deteriorate the ice sooner than it would in a "normal" season. In short, if you plan to fish Mille Lacs again, come now. In my opinion, anything after the weekend will be purely a bonus.
The northern activity is best in Wahkon Bay and Garrison Bay in 10-12 feet - suckers are the best bait. Perch are hit-or-miss, with the largest concentration being in the northeast corner of the lake - waxies on a Hawger Spoon are the ticket here. Tullibee action is good - fish the deep edge of the mud flats or the Tullibee Hole.
As of the time I wrote this, there is no word on the Mille Lacs regulations for the upcoming openwater season.
... (3-3)The end of the walleye season came and went much as it started waaaaaay back in late December (seems like yesterday) - lots of small walleye, leading us to believe that Mille Lacs has no less than 2 excellent year-classes of walleye swiming below what's left of the ice. Most folks see this as a great sign for the near future, author included. Now we sit at the threshold of what looks to be a GREAT openwater season, with no clear view of what lies ahead - will Mille Lacs anglers have the option to harvest walleye this season? If so, will there be a slot to protect these 2 year classes? Will there be periods within the season that will open and close? Based on what? For the last year, DNR biologists have tested, gathered, studied and taken creel info to this apparent end - WE ARE IN THE EXACT POSITION WE WERE IN LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME. Really? Exactly the same harvestable surplus? Exactly the same distribution? Not 1000 pounds more or less than last year? Maybe the taxpayers can get a refund for what the DNR spent in the last year to come up with EXACTLY the same result. Last week's gathering of the Minnesota DNR and the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee left a lot of folks scratching their heads regarding the future. After another frustrating session of "ban this, close that", the group left once again with no clear picture of the future on Mille Lacs. Expect the sentence to come down sometime in the next few weeks.
Bass season open through February 28, 2016. Combined possession limit is six, with only one Smallmouth Bass over 18".
If you didn't read this last fall, it deserves your attention this week. Here a link to the DNR'S Hooked on Mille Lacs fall newsletter. You can check out some of the results of the 2014 fall netting survey. Of particular interest is the summary on page 4: "There is nothing in this data that suggests tribal fishing is affecting reproduction". If you're left with a shred of doubt after this compelling analysis, PLEASE contact the Aitkin Fisheries Office of the Minnesota DNR.