|"The Bait Shop"|
Walleye: Two fish 18-20 inches. One may be longer than 28 inches.
Northern Pike: Ten fish. One may be longer than 30 inches. Season closes March 29, 2015.
Bass: Six total smallmouth and largemouth combined. One smallmouth may be longer than 18 inches. Season opens Saturday, May 10. Lake is exempt from mid-September catch-and-release smallmouth regulation. Bass may be caught through Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015.
Tullibee (Northern Cisco): Possession limit is 10.
Other Species: Follow statewide regulations.
Night Closure: The night ban will be lifted at 10PM on July 21st, 2014.
You'll notice that some regs have been relaxed or even temporarily eliminated. The night ban will be lifted at 10PM on July 21st, 2014. Most of the other regulations have changed to the Mille Lacs angler's advantage - the bass season coincides with the walleye season (May-Feb.), the northern limit has been increased to 10, darkhouse spearing will open December 1st and the northern season has been extended through March 15. All changes have been labeled "experimental/temporary", meaning that some or all of them will be tweaked down the road. Some folks like the changes, some hate them, some will tolerate them and some won't. Kind of like how they make red cars and blue cars... different things are important to different people.
...(1-29)Fishing on Mille Lacs has been on the slower side so far this week. Most of the fish we've seen since the weekend have come from the mudflats in 23-32 feet of water. The prime time periods around daylight and dark host much of the bite. Work the flats with a small rattle spoon (Buckshot, Rattlin' Flyer, Rattlesnake) tipped with a piece of a fathead. You'll likely find a few decent perch and some tullibee mixed in to round out the day. Some of the better areas this week include Greg's Flat, Backer Flat and the deep gravel. There has been a bit of a perch bite on the flats in the deeper water. Small Pimples (silver, green, yellow) tipped with Euro's are the best combo here. The northern action picked up a little this week in Cove Bay. Fish 10-12 feet toward the mouth with a sucker minnow.
The Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) training program (often referred to as the "trailer sticker") has been postponed. The Minnesota Legislature is currently considering changes to this law. Minnesota DNR is postponing the program launch until it receives direction from the legislature. While this newsletter IS NOT intended to be a political piece, we feel that issues like the "trailer sticker" (in its current form) are "bad policy" and in this case it has been shuffled to the legislature for more fine-tuning - great! Rest assured that these folks will be lobbied HARD. If you want to have your voice heard, you'll need to contact your senator/representative personally. It's their job to represent "their people" above lobbyists - even if those lobbyists work with the DNR. While you're at it, ask your senator/representative "why we can't get health certified/disease-free shiners imported to Minnesota for angling purposes?" By now, many of you have had to go to an alternative bait other than shiners because of the lack of indigenous shiners. The only way this problem gets solved is by allowing health-certified/disease-free shiners for retail purposes in Minnesota. Period. With the current spaz regarding VHS and invasive species, this will be a tough sell - HOWEVER... it will be impossible if we leave it to someone else to fix. If you like to fish with shiners, make the contact. End of political rant.
...(1-23) Angling pressure has been light on Mille Lacs so far this week - there is still very little snow on the lake and travel is good. Be sure to cross any cracks/heaves at a bridge.
Most of the walleye we're seeing are in the 10-11 inch range. There's a mix of oversized fish along with a handful of keepers too - that's consistent with what we've seen so far this season and I suspect it will be that way for the remainder. Overall, when you consider the whole day's catch (walleye, perch, tullibee, maybe a northern and even an eel pout) the action on Mille Lacs is pretty good. Some of your better baits include Kastmasters/Mr. Champs, Gem-n-Eyes and Tinglers. The top colors include Gold, copper and Firetiger. Stick to 25 feet or deeper for your walleye and perch, 30+ for the tullibee and 12 feet or less on the northern. This week we didn't notice any preference between mud, rocks or gravel.
Shiners. 3 winters ago, we tangled with the DNR and with some folks in the legislature to see if we could improve the supply of shiners to Minnesota anglers. As you may expect, these folks blew us (you) off. Last weekend, some of you experienced the beginning of this year's "shiner shortage" in bait shops across Minnesota. We currently have a few shiners in stock and expect to get a few more for the weekend. We apologize in advance to anyone who will go without. Within the next few weeks, I expect we'll take another run at the DNR and the legislature to try to get things loosened up for next season and beyond. That said, there is no benefit to calling constantly to see if we have them in. Quite frankly, we either have them or we don't. Consider taking the same amount of time and contact each of your Minnesota legislators and insist that they allow CERTIFIED, DISEASE-FREE shiners into Minnesota. We have the source... we simply need the permission.
If you didn't read this last fall, it deserves your attention this week. Here a link to the DNR'S newest 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: "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.
The Minnesota DNR has a new surprise for boaters statewide. By July 1st, 2015 each of us will have to take invasive species training, pass a test and pay a fee to obtain a sticker for our boat trailer. Own a second boat? No sweat - just pay a little extra and they'll issue you another sticker! Have any questions? Follow this link.