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"The original Mille Lacs on-line fishing report"
Courtesy of Lundeen's Tackle Castle and Guide Service

Last updated 3-20-15
in-store shop special
The Minnesota DNR has announced the 2014 regulations for Mille Lacs:

Walleye: Two fish 18-20 inches. One may be longer than 28 inches. Northern Pike: Ten fish. One may be longer than 30 inches. Angling 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. No Culling 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 angling season has been extended through March 29. 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.


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...(3-20) Last weekend we saw some bonus springtime weather that brought out a bunch of folks hoping to snag a few late-season northern. Some did great, others not so much. The warm weather and abundant sunshine took its toll on some of the accesses. While the cooler, more seasonable weather throughout the week has slowed the melting/erosion of the accesses, it never really got cold enough to re-freeze the slush and water. Vehicle travel appears to be over - It looks like ATV's, snowmobiles and some good planks to finish out the season. Walking out remains an option too. Keep your options open - your first choice for access may be sloppy or wet when you get there. The overall ice thickness is 24+ inches and even up to 30 in some areas. The top is pretty porous. Northern, perch and tullibee action is similar to the past few weeks. A few crappie are beginning to show up in Isle Bay.

No word yet on the new regulations for this summer.

...(3-12)Funny how a week can change things - last Thursday when I started writing the Weekend Outlook it was -21 degrees. Today it's rumored to get to 60! Last week we were "making ice", this week we're wondering how we'll get across the cracks. The abrupt temperature change along with some strong winds set some things in motion. The cracks/heaves have been pretty active all week and crossing them can be a challenge. Nearly all of the bridges have been removed. We've seen some snowmobiles and ATVs plank the flaws in order to get across along the south and west sides - this has been the most practical approach. It's not advisable to cross before daylight or after dark. Most all of the "northern spots" lie on the "shore side" of the cracks. Tullibee action has been decent in 32+ feet adjacent to the mud flats. Some folks are picking up some nice perch here too, along with a bunch of little guys. All of the tullibee and most of the perch are hitting bugs (waxies, spikes and shrimp). We also continue to see some perch activity in 12 feet of water toward the shoreline. This has been a hit-or-miss thing, but there have been some pretty decent days mixed in lately. Anglers continue to take advantage of the late season northern bite on Mille Lacs - use big suckers in 9-12 feet. Most of these fish are coming from the bays on the south half of the lake.

Northern season remains open on MIlle Lacs through March 29th, 2015. The limit is 10, with one allowed over 30 inches.

The "new" (2015) fish and game licenses are now on sale. They are due March 1st.

The "new" (2015) fish and game licenses are now on sale. They are due March 1st.

I attended the Fisheries Input Group meeting with the Aitkin Fisheries people and other members of the Minnesota DNR on Thursday, 2-26. I wanted to have the opportunity to report on any kind of a "plan" that may come up at the meeting regarding the 2015 open water season. I've been to nearly all of these gatherings before and have written in the Weekend Outlook about most of them. It's an exercise in frustration, but here goes. The meeting was "moderated" by a member of our illustrious DNR's Enforcement Division (in full uniform - polished, armed and tazer-ready). Interesting choice of moderators. I get the whole uniform thing - I grew up in a law enforcement family and understand that there is no "uniform-lite option". Was this the best choice of moderators? Was it an attempt to quell the group? Intimidation, maybe? There were plenty of other uniformed officers there too. Was he particularly skilled in moderating meetings? Most effective moderators are "topic-neutral" and have strong time-management skills. Did he draw the short straw? Whatever drove their choice, it seemed odd. The meeting was designed to be another "presentation-style" gathering with little opportunity for group input (even though we're called the "Input Group"). As things started to erode, there was little choice but to hear from the group. Once again, just like in nearly all of these gatherings we were charged with selecting/choosing/voting on a series of bad choices - bad for anglers, bad for business, bad for the overall Mille Lacs community. Much of the same stuff was on the table from last year - night ban, leech ban, live bait ban, catch-and-release only, SEASON CLOSURE... all the stuff that makes you proud to part of the Mille Lacs community. Just like last year, you can imagine the response to ANY changes - people resist change. ALWAYS. To have people rate their tolerance to some of these options was akin to asking the group, " We're gonna bury you - now would you like to be shot, stabbed or hung?" The reception was luke-warm at best. AGAIN. The "Blue Ribbon Panel" was praised by State Fisheries Chief Don Pereira, stating that the Blue Ribbon Panel agreed largely with the Aitkin Fisheries biologists and their data. Kinda figured that one was coming. There was the annual passionate "economic impact appeal" which is real to most folks in the room. Like I wrote last year, "The problem lies with lobbying a group of scientists regarding economic issues - the answer doesn't fit neatly into their data. It's like bringing your favorite baitcaster to a quilting seminar - the two just don't go together. Thus it is with these two groups - the DNR panel doesn't have an equation for how the struggling Mille Lacs economy factors into the off-shore netting assessments. Nor do they seem to give a #$%^ at times. It's not in their "wheelhouse" to bring economic fallout into their laboratory." The whole thing smells like last year all over again - but wait! Unlike 2014 where the harvest was reduced to 60,000 pounds (shared), the new number smells like 40,000 pounds (shared). Something like 28,600 for the State and the remainder to Tribal participants. Even though State anglers only harvested +/- 26,000 pounds of the available 42, 900 pounds, "we" will receive no credit for the unused poundage toward next season's quota. Again. This means that if the DNR were to leave the Mille Lacs regs the same as last year (2 walleye between 18-20), anglers would have a 70+ percent probability of exceeding the 28,600 pound quota. They (DNR) will never go for those odds. In reality I would expect to see something even more restrictive than last year's walleye regulation. Again.

We have some important dates coming up - here are the "end-of-the-season" dates:

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.

Moon Phase
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