|"The Bait Shop"|
... (10-1) Moving forward - I don't see a change in the bite or the patterns from last week. The surface temperature has dropped to the lower 60's and the hazard buoys have been removed. We still have leeches. The duck opener was a disappointment (locally) to many - mostly sunrise shooting. The wild rice was and remains to be a hit to all! That's it.
As of "press time", no information is available about the the Mille Lacs Advisory Committee.
Yes, we still have leeches!
... (9-25)We didn't see much angling pressure on Mille Lacs for any species this past week. As the water temperature begins to drop, expect the muskie, northern and smallmouth bite to pick up. Surface temps are hovering in the mid-high 60's - down about 10 degrees from the summer's high point. Look to the weed edges for your northern and muskie at this point. Large suckers are turning most of the fish. Smallmouth action is best in 12-20 feet over rocky bottom. shiners and leeches have been the best bait.
Yes, we still have leeches!
This weekend will mark the September full moon.
The application period for the DNR's new Advisory Committee closed yesterday. No news yet as to the results of their selection process.
This weekend marks the duck opener. By coincidence, we (Bill and Emil) just returned from the processor with our biggest haul EVER of wild rice! This is the real deal - not patty (the black stuff that looks like mouse droppings) rice. Straight off Onamia Lake. Some folks love to have wild rice with their duck... others just prefer the rice. However you like yours, stop in and pick up a few pounds to enjoy! It also makes a great hostess gift for Thanksgiving or even as a Christmas gift.
...(9-18)The angling pressure on Mille Lacs was as low as we've seen it all season so far - empty accesses and only a few die-hard anglers (mostly muskie guys) ocassionally dotting the reefs tell us that the effort by some to convert the loyal masses of Mille Lacs walleye anglers into smallmouth fishermen has fallen short... WAAAAY short. Is there still a bite? Sure there is, but even for the seasoned "bass-head" it's clear that the bite has toughened-up from where it was earlier. Most anyone can catch smallies during the spawn and even post-spawn while they're in the shallows. As they make a transition into deeper rock, catch numbers AND anglers start to lessen. These fish are still catchable, and on the right day you can still pop a fair number of them but as we approach the last 6 weeks-or-so of "the season" it doesn't appear that Mille Lacs will host the "thunder and roar" that we often see during the almost-sacred period that many of us have come to worship as simply "fall fishing on Mille Lacs".
The Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Boat and Water department is scheduled to begin removing the hazard buoys (in the Mille Lacs County portion of the lake - basically, the lower 2/3 of the lake) in a couple of weeks. If you plan to do some fall smallmouth or muskie fishing, this would be a good time to mark some of these areas in your GPS so you don't hit anything unexpectedly after they are removed.
Yes, we still do prop repair.
The Aitkin Fisheries office of the Minnesota DNR is currently conducting their annual fall netting assessment of Mille Lacs. Details of this survey are traditionally available by mid-October. The results of this survey will be brought to the fall technical meeting where, independent of the Governor's recent proclamation of a winter walleye season on Mille Lacs, the DNR will determine the "safe harvestable surplus" and whether Mille Lacs can safely handle a winter walleye season.
The DNR has invited the public to apply for a position on the new Mille Lacs Advisory Group. People interested in being more actively involved in fisheries management on Mille Lacs Lake can apply to serve on a newly formed Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee. Committee members will be appointed by the Department of Natural Resources commissioner and will advise the DNR on fisheries management programs and related issues for Mille Lacs Lake. “This committee will play an important role in furthering the dialogue about Mille Lacs Lake and focusing on issues relevant to the state’s management of the lake,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “We want committee members and the public to have a more structured and participative process to provide meaningful input, with a goal of reaching a shared understanding with the DNR about issues and potential solutions affecting the Mille Lacs Lake fishery.” Members will be appointed to serve terms of at least two years on the committee. Membership on the committee will include a diversity of angling interests; local business and tourism interests; tribal and academic representation; and local county officials. To improve openness and transparency of technical discussions, two committee members will also be asked to attend meetings of the state and tribal fisheries technical committee as observers. The new committee will replace the Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group, which was formed in 1997 and consisted of citizens and business owners from the Mille Lacs Lake area. People who want to apply have until Thursday, Sept. 24 to submit applications. Information about the committee structure, functions, expectations of appointed members, and how to apply are available on the DNR website or by calling 651-259-5221. The direct link is http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/millelacslake/index.html
Bass season open through February 28, 2016. Combined possession limit is six, with only one Smallmouth Bass over 18".
Yes, we still have decent leeches! (9-25-15)
I called the DNR in St. Paul today to get some clarification on the smallmouth regs - the yellow "Mille Lacs stickers" that we hand out THOUSANDS of (the ones that describe the Mille Lacs-specific regs) state that the bass (largemouth and smallmouth) season for harvest "opens and closes with the walleye season". Since the walleye season is closed, we needed some clarification. The DNR says on their website that "Bass season open through February 28, 2016. Combined possession limit is six, with only one Smallmouth Bass over 18". So there it is - since the book that you get when you get your license isn't right, and the Mille Lacs-specific sticker that you get when you come to the baitshops and resorts isn't right, you must be expected to check the DNR's website for the real deal. And folks thought a 19-21 inch harvest slot was confusing!
Each year (usually in mid-July) leeches get tough to come by. This year is no exception. Does this mean that there are none? Not at all - however the size and quantity will suffer as we get further into summer. We still have a modest supply of bigger leeches that we sell by the dozen, and some smaller stuff that we can sell by the dozen or the 1/2 pound. Several years ago, I wrote an article about the lifecycle of a leech and why they get hard to come by as the summer goes on. You can find that article HERE if you would like to brush up on your "leechology".
The "night ban" is now in effect.
The "trailer sticker" that we were all supposed to have this spring has been put "on hold".
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.