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Musky Buck

Baiting

43 posts in this topic

We've been down this road before, I don't want it to get ugly. I just want to post the field and stream article written by Scott Bestul and then you can make an agree/disagree about it. Just an FYI article. From April 2009, page 23 and 24. Grain Man-In Wisconsin, hunters can put out more than 200 gallons of bait per season. A Pile of Trouble. Put the ethical debate aside. Right or Wrong, baiting is bad news for deer hunting and deer. I think baiting for whitetails has to stop now. okay,okay, before you peg me as a purist who thinks all baiters are slobs, hear me out. If you watch a spin feeder or camp near a pile of sugar beets, I'm not going to attack your character or question your allegiance to the flag. But, I do think that if you gave up the bait, we'd all be better off. Baiting divides us. Nationally, 28 states ban the practice in any form, while 22 allow it(eight with significant restrictions). And recent headlines point to deep divisions within individual states. Last Spring, legislation passed by the mississippi house and senate would have allowed baiting in the Magnolia state for the first time had Gov. Haley Barbour not vetoed the bill. In Michigan, a state long synonymous with baiting, officials shocked the deer hunting community by abruptly banning the practice in the entire Lower Peninsula after a single game farm doe tested positive for chronic wasting disease. In the Upper Peninsula, however, baiting remains legal. What we need is to unify- against baiting. Not because it's unethical (that's a complicated argument and an ugly fight), but because deer hunters, deer hunting, and deer would all benefit. Here's why: 1. We'd see more deer during daylight. It doesn't take a whitetails long to associate bait piles with humans, and when deer know people are around, they wait for dark to feed. Studies from Texas, Michigan, and Mississippi all show that daylight buck visits to bait sites range from rare to virtually nonexistant. Whitetails already restrict their daytime movements. Why make it worse? 2. Deer would generally be more active. Foraging whitetails must travel to find food. Bait reduces the need for this movement, creating not only a nocturnal buck but a lazy one. 3. Deer would be healthier. Researchers have proved a link between baiting and bovine tb in whitetails. The CWD connection is shakier, but find me a biologist who thinks concentrating deer near a pinpoint food source is a good thing. Besides, baited deer in nonagricultural areas can get sick from eating too much grain. The disease is called lactic acidosis, and it can kill a whitetail. 4. We'd be better managers. Baiting can lead to unnaturally high survival and birth rates, particularly in northern deer. It also concentrates whitetails, which eat more than just what we put out for them. That densely packed herd can wipe out native plant species and retard forest regeneration. We've long told the public, "We're the managers who keep whitetail numbers in tune with their habitat". Well, are we? 5. We'd fight less with one another. We're all aware of the battle lines drawn over the ethics of baiting. But, beyond that once a hunter puts out a pile of corn, his neighbors feel obliged to follow suit. Soon, a seemingly benign activity turns ultracompetitive. In 1984, only 29% of Michigan hunters reported using bait. Just nine years later, the figure had risen to 56%, and more than one in five hunters told the DNR that baiting to compete with other hunters was "very important" to them. Wisc. DNR researcher mark Toso estimates that Badger State gun hunters alone place 4.5 million pounds of corn on the ground each day-enough to feed the state's entire herd of 1.8 million deer-during the firearms season. Baiting is especially troubling on public lands, where hunters who place bait often claim ownership for their sites and a considerable territory around them. This practice-known as homesteading-ruins the hunting experience for everyone. 6. We'd improve our public image. Surveys reveal that most of the non-hunting public supports our tradition as long as hunting remains a fair-chase, ethical endeavor. If the ethics of baiting is controversial among hunters, what must the general populace think? And make no mistake; what they think is critical to deer hunting's future. 7. We'd tag jsut as many deer. Baiting proponents argue they'd kill significantly fewer deer without the bait, but only one Texas study supports that. Other research reveals equal or near equal success. Just this past fall, Michigan hunters- despite complaints that the bait ban would slash their harvest-bagged nearly the same number of deer as they did during the previous season. But suppose, just for the sake of argument, that we'd bag slightly fewer deer. So what? I'll take that-along with better hunting, healthier deer, and one less wedge to divide us-any day of the week. The End. There it is. No need to respond to it, just someone else could post an article on why baiting is a good thing and then we can compare them and make our own judgments from there. Just an FYI read.

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Just an FYI. Not for long Dave, wife lost her job so I'll be busier than ever stirring the musky buck pot. Things just really got cloudy for my family. Cloudy like the baiting issue. Time for me to fly.

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Ahhhhh.....the old "use baiting to cause trouble on a slow day" trick......very clever.

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That wasn't the purpose at all, but I have yet to read a good pro-baiting article. I think it has become a problem in our state. I have seen the damage it can cause. The 4.5 million pounds dumped daily in Wisc. during firearms season is what caught my eye, I hope we don't get to that point. I've often wondered what is being dumped already, some are getting pretty sophisticated with it. It is unnecessary unless pockets of the state get so overwhelmed they need sharpshooters etc. Even with bait those deer change their patterns quickly. Right or wrong, fair or not, just for your perusal.

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Just for you Shiner, I'm way against baiting yes. I think our 600,000 deer hunters+vehicles can keep deer numbers in check without baiting them. I'd rather see baiting than buck party hunting. I also understand baiters don't shoot every deer that comes to the pile. Would you support baiting elk since I see you are a chapter chair ? I'm not trying to get at ya or pick on you and it is irrelevant whether you support baiting or not. What would your thoughts be on that ? Also, do you know if that has ever come up with elk hunting ?

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Just an FYI. Not for long Dave, wife lost her job so I'll be busier than ever stirring the musky buck pot. Things just really got cloudy for my family. Cloudy like the baiting issue. Time for me to fly.

That's too bad Musky Buck. I don't ever like to see this happen to anyone.

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I doubt that you will find a lot of pro-baiting arguments here unless you ask if food plots compare to baiting. But I would never bring that up because that might stir the pot. smirk

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Just a thought - every year good ethical hunters will put out bait and wait for an unsuspecting bear to harvest. Food plots do work IF you have the land to plant. I do agree that a good hunter will take the time to find the routes, scraps, and rubs to get a deer. The last two years the DNR has used helicopters to find illegal deer baiters with some success. Don't know what the cost to the taxpayer is as opposed to the fines collected. Ok -- Cast A Way

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Just for you Shiner, I'm way against baiting yes. I think our 600,000 deer hunters+vehicles can keep deer numbers in check without baiting them. I'd rather see baiting than buck party hunting. I also understand baiters don't shoot every deer that comes to the pile. Would you support baiting elk since I see you are a chapter chair ? I'm not trying to get at ya or pick on you and it is irrelevant whether you support baiting or not. What would your thoughts be on that ? Also, do you know if that has ever come up with elk hunting ?

Although I wont bite and get into a debate about baiting deer in March, I do bait deer in MI, and until the MI DNR finds it necessary to ban, I will continue to hunt this way. I have posted on this subject a couple times before and it has turned ugly (which I don't want to happen again). Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I would never fault anyone for their views. Don't worry about "getting at me or picking on me" as I am a big boy, but I have heard this argument a 1000 times and it always ends up the same.

Baiting elk would never work so (IMO) it is not a valid argument.

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I hear ya shiner, I have no problem with baiting in a state where it's legal, I just don't understand it's purpose I guess when most areas deer #'s are in check in MN and in other areas numbers seem down. We have 2 deer per hunter in MN, meaning 600,000 hunters x 1.2 million deer. I think we can do the job without baiting them in. We have greater needs here I think than baiting. The bear bait thing is you don't have to bait them if you don't want. How else in our mosquito infested woods could you get one otherwise ? In my bear area they don't even sell out the available licenses. Bear numbers seem strong and how else would the DNR try to control their numbers. If hunters couldn't bait them few would probably go. If deer hunters couldn't bait deer, which we can't, we still go. If we can't bait waterfowl, we still go. I just don't want our deer seasons to turn into a baiting fiasco. I don't want to take deer away from other people who have marginal lands to hunt on, with bait those folks wouldn't stand much chance even baiting because I can bait in a swamp way off the road where the deer feel even safer. Why'd the DNR halt baiting in lower Michigan, infected animal ? I do understand the article is 1 guys viewpoint and research on it. Trust this, I have some relatives that wished it was legal, I just tell them you like the shooting part about hunting, not the hunting part about shooting. smile

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My thoughts are different, you'll be happy to know. Now with a wife who was canned, these deer related issues really take a back seat. I'm sorry I have been too narrow minded, like an amish horse, I had my blinders on. All of a sudden like a ton of bricks I better focus on what really is important in life. I appreciate it Big Dave and whatever the season is or becomes I'll just go by the book like always, take care guys and I wish your families well in these economic times.

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I hope your better half can find a job somehow....It is sad to hear about all the people on this site that are being or have been effected by the employment situation. frown

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can't..resist..posting..

The only reason baiting is a good idea in MI (or anywhere else) is so you can compete with the neighbors who are baiting. By logic, it would stand to reason that banning all baiting would level the playing field with far fewer issues than allowing everyone to bait.

I see we are back to the inane argument comparing food plots with baiting. I'll simplify:

baiting = short term benefit to hunter

food plot = long term benefit to all wildlife (including deer) and the hunter.

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I would support baiting in MN 100%. Many others do to, they are just afraid to stand up as those who support it tend to get spanked pretty good in forums like this. In reality, baiting is such a pandemic at this point, we might as well level the playing field and let the CO's focus on other issues (baiting tends to take a lot of their time). However, I would recommend that if you are one that baits, your days are numbered. I spent some time with some CO's over the last few years and they filled me in on their tactics. Chopper or small plane with GPS marking makes you an easy target. Not worth losing all your gear and hunting privilages in my opinion.

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Well, I guess there are pros and cons to baiting. And I'm not about to even get into depth about because everything has already been said before. People consider food plots baiting. Well, I plant the [PoorWordUsage] out of food plots, and they do work. Have i ever shot a deer out of a food plot, no. Do i have 1000's of pics of deer in them, yes. I do believe however that there should be a clear reason stating why bait piles are illegal. I mean, that is about the only way one can harvest a bear in MN, is over a bait pile.

What would a bushel of corn in front of my bow stand hurt anything. Is that really enough to change the feeding pattern of deer? I doubt it. For instance. a month ago i took two bushels of corn out of the grain bin on the farm. dumped them in one random spot in the woods. Hung the trail camera over it and let it be for three weeks. Keep in mind, I was only doing this to simplify my shed scouting efforts. Trying to see if the bucks had lost their head gear before logging on the miles looking for them. 810 pics later, all does and fawns, with a few button bucks that had lost their nubbins. to make my point, every single picture was during daylight. maybe this time of the year it wouldn't have effected their feeding patterns.

Everyone preaches CWD is the result of baiting. Can anyone find a study to prove that? Doe in heat scents are more likely to change a rutting bucks daily routine than a bushel of corn. after all, rutting bucks don't tend to eat at all while ruttin and stompin around.

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I know when I add my 2 cents it just keeps spirraling, but Vister, in front of your stand a corn pile wouldn't be a problem nor in front of mine. We won't hammer away without selectivity. These are a few of my concerns about it Vister, not trying to pick on the guy who took 2nd place without bait by archery and a huge congrats to you on that. How about a section of land with many landowners in it ? What type of competition might arise ? Would people start baiting in August already trying to keep animals on their property ? Will we see camoflauged gravity boxes spilling corn deep in the woods ? I know they'd set a limit, but once legal we'd start hearing all kinds of scenarios. What about public land, I'll be darned if I put out a ton of corn that I won't defend that baited site to the fullest. What about 100+ days of baiting going on, think deer during a cold musket season might be susceptable to bait, especially in non-farming areas ? What about my neighbors that were 20 for 20 archery hunting with 80 standing acres of corn just 50 yards away ? What about deer numbers and after a wicked deer depleting winter, with baiting as law, bait away I guess to the deer that are left picturing northern minnesota. I just don't want MN to say ok, so much illegal baiting is going on why not like 40% of our states, why not just legalize it without taking in all the possible scenarios. The more scenarios I come up with just seem to make it not so good and I never mentioned fair chase, I have yet to see a baited deer show where I felt it was fair chase, looked more like unfair chase or just waiting for the herd to hit the pile to me. I haven't even touched the disease issue if there is one, that is low on my radar compared to the new issues that will rise from baiting. To me baiting is too effective, calls,rattlin horns,scents,salt blocks,deer decoys, and whatever else is way less effective and doesn't pin point your deer. I have yet to see a thread on here about which scent do you use or what kind of salt or while rattlin what sequence do you use or is a doe or buck a better decoy during rifle season or buck,doe,fawn bleat, which call is the bomb. I've tried for 26 years most of those things and have had minimal luck with any of them, many times trying them after I have already had success and once rifle pressured, those things become way less effective, but deer have to eat and there is no doubt if I could bait my swamp I'd be pulling in a lot of deer from others and other properties because they'd have the big 3, water,shelter, and then food.

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MB, if baiting became legal and you suddenly had a swamp devoid of deer, would you than feel forced to also bait?

I get to hunt a property in Farm country. The first few years we saw very few deer. Since adding food plots, we see as many as the neighboring farmers (still not many.) The food plots are kinda fun, but are a lot of work, and they take some money that is hard to come by these days. But I do feel forced to food plot in order to keep up with the farmers. I am O.K. with feeling forced to keep up to the farmers in order to see a few animals. I would not be O.K. with being forced to keep up with someone baiting, even if it was cheaper, easier, and took less time.

IF anyone can show that deer being fed bait are healthier and have LESS chance of spreading disease than deer not being fed bait, I could, maybe be swayed the other way. Till than, please no baiting.

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Did the anti baiting, so I better do some back tracking on pro-baiting. I do rifle hunt 3 areas or 3 separate herds of deer. The pro's would be I could put almost an end to fringe hunters meaning if i could bait, I could end there rifle seasons almost before they begin, plus I'd feel a lot safer than them using my creek bottom as a background for their bullets on 1 of the properties. I'm talking about the guys that have zero deer where they hunt, but wait for them to come out of my land or your land into plowed field, pasture, some even sit in there yard and blast across my field if I'm not around. I could bait all 3 sites, restricting some deer movement toward these open areas, maybe these deer wouldn't jump the fence like they have always done, maybe they'd stay by the river longer, feed there and not have to travel as much and not go into these marginal fields as often. And when they do the rifle fire is intense because any and every deer is shot if given the chance. I thought baiting would be too much as far as harvest goes, but maybe not, if I can hold deer on my properties they wouldn't be getting shot and if I am lucky enough to score on a mature buck, I could keep baiting to try to hold the deer onto my property through the whole deer season and add a doe tag to the wallet. I could bait them at the perfect rifle or muzzy range without spooking them much. I could feed them as far away from the brown down gang as I could. Hey, see I can flip flop between the pro and con, maybe I should freelance a field and stream article on pro-baiting. With any topic, there is the pro's and the con's. I agree with you guys, how can Musky Buck be so Anti baiting when I haven't seen it first hand and we've never tried it MN, that is true.

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I still agree with ya Jameson 100%, we have 22 states that allow it, I'd love to see those hunters surveyed so I could get some concrete been there done that information. The pro-bait I wrote really is do those marginal land hunters want to be wiped out. I hear ya J, no doubt the first few years I wouldn't bait but times change and I could see myself being forced into it at some point, something I'd swear I'd never do would turn into I guess I "have" to now and then those marginal stands would get pretty silent.

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I watched several people try to bait on a small scale...set out corn for a couple of months in a fairly hidden area, then keep on putting it out during the season. zero deer shot over the bait. They only fed the bluejays and red squirrels. I had to laugh about it. If it isn't food they know, or in their travel routes, baiting can be a waste of time and money.

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Maybe some guys are "forced" into baiting because of the foodplot guys? If you are on public land or borrowed land with a food plot in the area, how else do you combat it?

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can't..resist..posting..

I see we are back to the inane argument comparing food plots with baiting. I'll simplify:

baiting = short term benefit to hunter

food plot = long term benefit to all wildlife (including deer) and the hunter.

Not neccessarily.

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Private land...lots of area. He is just trying to be cute.

There isn't any pressure in our area. I am just saying, that limited baiting in the wrong place doesn't work. The neighbors even tried the pumpkin bit. The pumpkin was still there in the spring and had rotted.

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    • Minnesota DNR News
      For Immediate Release:
      July 21, 2017
      In This Issue

      Conserving Mille Lacs walleye population requires regulation changes

      Mille Lacs Lake Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for summer 2017

      Conserving Mille Lacs walleye population requires regulation changes

      Walleye fishing on Mille Lacs Lake will remain closed until Aug. 11 to protect the walleye fishery, and ensure its long-term health and sustainability into the future

      To extend the walleye fishing season through Labor Day, the state will allow for an additional 11,000 pounds of walleye harvest on Mille Lacs 

      New solutions are being sought to rebuild and sustain a healthy Mille Lacs walleye fishery

      New fisheries data collected by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources show the total safe harvest allocation for walleyes on Mille Lacs Lake (44,800 pounds) has already been exceeded this season. To protect the fishery and ensure the long-term sustainability of Mille Lacs Lake’s walleye population, the DNR announced today that walleye fishing will remain closed until Friday, Aug. 11.

      In order to extend the walleye fishing season through Labor Day, the state will allow for an additional 11,000 pounds of walleye harvest. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will run from Friday, Aug. 11, through Monday, Sept. 4, for the Labor Day weekend. Walleye fishing will then be closed from Tuesday, Sept. 5, through Thursday, Nov. 30.

      As these regulation changes were announced, Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr reiterated the state’s commitment to rebuilding and sustaining a healthy walleye fishery in Mille Lacs Lake.

      “Improving the walleye population in Mille Lacs is a top priority for the DNR,” Landwehr said. “We deeply regret the hardships these new regulations will cause for anglers and business owners. But they are essential to protect and enhance the future of walleye fishing in the lake for future generations. We will continue doing everything we can to understand the challenges facing the walleye fishery, and take whatever actions we can to resolve this very difficult situation.”

      Landwehr and DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira noted that allowing for additional catch-and-release fishing in August is essential for area anglers, businesses, and Mille Lacs area communities. The decision to allow for this additional harvest was made with input from the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee.

      “We want to allow as much walleye fishing on Mille Lacs as possible,” Pereira said. “So even though state anglers already have caught their quota of fish, the DNR will dip into the allowed conservation overage to reopen the season on Aug. 11.”

      Through the closure, anglers on Mille Lacs Lake may fish for all other species in the lake including bass, muskellunge and northern pike. When fishing for other species, only artificial baits and lures will be allowed in possession, except for anglers targeting northern pike or muskie, who may fish with sucker minnows longer than 8 inches.

      A prohibition on night fishing will remain in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Nov. 30. However, anglers may fish for muskie and northern pike at night, but may only use artificial lures longer than 8 inches or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. Bowfishing for rough fish also is allowed at night but possession of angling equipment is not allowed and only rough fish may be in possession.

      Understanding walleye fishing quotas on Mille Lacs this year, and why that quota was reached earlier than predicted
      The DNR and the Chippewa bands that cooperatively manage Mille Lacs Lake agreed this year to harvest quotas of 44,800 pounds for state anglers and 19,200 pounds for tribal fishing. They also agreed that up to 75,000 pounds of walleye could be harvested from the lake from Dec. 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017.

      That agreement allows the state to use a built-in buffer – the 11,000 pounds difference between the 75,000 pounds conservation cap and the 64,000 pounds combined harvest quotas – in an attempt to allow catch-and-release walleye fishing through Labor Day, following the mid-summer closure. Bi-weekly creel surveys show that state anglers already have reached their quota.

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      Continuing the walleye fishing closure will reduce the number of fish that die after being caught and released, a condition known as hooking mortality. The likelihood of fish suffering hooking mortality increases as water temperatures warm.

      High walleye catch rates on Mille Lacs have increased DNR fishing projections. A hot walleye bite attracted more anglers to the lake, resulting in angler effort that is about double what it was in 2016.

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      According to the DNR, bigger fish are biting, in part, because there is a shortage of food for larger walleye. Last fall’s assessment showed that larger walleye were thinner than average.

      Mille Lacs’ hot bite also reflects the findings of studies done in many other fisheries that show catchability actually increases when fish population drops. In Mille Lacs, walleye congregate in preferred spots rather than disperse evenly throughout the lake. Fewer fish in the lake means there is more room in the preferred spots for fish to gather, creating a situation where a larger percentage of the population is in position to be caught rather than gathering in a less preferred but less fished area.

      More information about Mille Lacs Lake, the regulation adjustments and management of the fishery is available on the DNR page at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

      New solutions are being sought to improve and sustain a healthy walleye fishery
      The DNR announced in June that a new external review team of scientists will take a fresh look at Mille Lacs Lake’s walleye fishery, using all of the best science available to gain a better understanding of the lake. This new review, led by walleye expert Dr. Chris Vandergoot of the U.S. Geological Survey, will provide additional recommendations to improve fisheries management of the lake, and contribute to a long-term solution to improving and sustaining a healthy walleye fishery for future generations. The group’s report is expected in time to help guide and inform fisheries management decisions for the 2018 season.

      DNR encourages Minnesotans to fish for other abundant species on Mille Lacs Lake
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      Bassmaster Magazine named Mille Lacs the nation’s best bass lake in June and will send 50 of the country’s best anglers to the lake In September for its Angler of the Year tournament. Northern pike abound in Mille Lacs, along with muskellunge. In early July, a woman from southern Minnesota caught and released in Mille Lacs what may have been Minnesota’s largest-ever muskellunge.

      To learn more about Mille Lacs Lake and its many great fishing opportunities, visit the DNR page. To plan visit to the Mille Lacs area, visit the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council page.

      ###

      Mille Lacs Lake Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for summer 2017
      Q: What is happening with the walleye season this summer on Mille Lacs Lake?

      A: The closure that began July 8 and was set to end July 28 is being extended by two weeks. That means walleye fishing will reopen at 6:01 a.m. on Aug. 11 for catch-and-release only through Labor Day. A night fishing closure also will remain in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Nov. 30.

      Q: How does this affect fishing for other species?

      A: Fishing regulations for other species such as smallmouth bass, muskie and northern pike remain the same. During the night closure, there is an exception for muskie and northern pike anglers using artificial lures and sucker minnows longer than 8 inches.

      Q: Why did the DNR extend the closure?

      A: While the DNR wants to allow as much walleye fishing on Mille Lacs as possible, the state is also required to abide by cooperative agreements made with eight American Indian Chippewa bands. The two weeks of additional closure allows the state to abide by a harvest quota set earlier this year with the bands.

      The DNR and the bands agreed to harvest quotas of 44,800 pounds for state anglers and 19,200 pounds for tribal fishing. They also agreed that up to 75,000 pounds of walleye could be sustainably harvested from the lake from Dec. 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017 in order to conserve the population

      That agreement allows the state to use a built-in buffer – the 11,000 pounds difference between the conservation cap of 75,000 pounds and the combined harvest quota of 64,000 pounds – in an attempt to allow catch-and-release walleye fishing through Labor Day, following the mid-summer closure.

      The latest creel survey data shows that state anglers reached their quota of 44,800 pounds of walleye caught from Mille Lacs in early July. Even though state anglers already have caught their quota of fish, the DNR is dipping into the allowed conservation reserve in order to reopen the season on Aug. 11.

      Q: Why has the walleye population in Mille Lacs declined? What is the DNR doing in the long-term to try to conserve the population?

      A: The vast majority of walleye that hatch do not survive to their third autumn in the lake. Walleye numbers have declined to the point that it has become important to protect spawning-sized walleye, particularly the class of walleye that hatched in 2013. It is important to protect the large 2013 year class to replenish aging spawning stock.  Most males from the 2013 class are now mature, but females will not start to contribute in large numbers until next spring. The state is committed to conserving the population of walleyes born in 2013 to improve and rebuild a sustainable population for the future.

      Q: Why do we count hooking mortality during a closed walleye season?

      A: The amount that state anglers can kill (as spelled out in state-bands agreements) also must include fish that die as a result of hooking mortality, the fish that die after being caught and then released back into the water. During the closure, some anglers still catch walleye incidentally and some of those fish die after being released. Under the state-band agreements, those dead fish must be calculated and counted against the state’s allocation.

      Q: How did this cooperative management between the state and the bands of Mille Lacs Lake come to be?   

      A: Recall that in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower-court decisions that allowed the Mille Lacs band and seven other Chippewa bands to exercise off-reservation fishing and hunting rights. The lower federal court also set up guidelines, known as stipulations and protocols, for both sides to follow. These stipulations and protocols provide a framework for how the bands and the state must work cooperatively to manage shared natural resources, including Mille Lacs fish.  In their agreements, the DNR and the bands are required to annually establish the number of walleye that can safely be harvested from Mille Lacs while ensuring sufficient remaining walleye in the lake for a healthy fishery.

      Q: If the walleye population is in decline, why are anglers catching so many?

      A: Fish are biting for two reasons. First, there is a shortage of food for larger walleye. Last fall’s assessment showed that larger walleye were thinner than average. Second, studies in many fisheries show that catchability actually increases when fish population decline.

      In Mille Lacs, walleye congregate in preferred spots rather than disperse evenly throughout the lake. Fewer fish in the lake means there’s more room in the preferred spots for fish to gather, and anglers find these spots where they can catch a larger portion of fish. Finally, while the walleye population has decreased considerably (by half or more), the amount of fishing pressure has declined by a lot more. This means that there are more walleye per angler fishing Mille Lacs today.

      Q: How is the DNR using science and research to help the walleye population?

      A: Mille Lacs Lake is the most studied lake in Minnesota. It is also a complex and changing system. The agency conducts a large number of surveys on the lake annually. These surveys include assessing the abundance of young walleye; setting 52 nets to assess adult abundance; using fine-mesh nets each summer to determine abundance of food (prey fish) for walleye; and using interviews with anglers around the lake (called creel surveys) to estimate the number of fish anglers are catching. The DNR also periodically tags walleye and other species to provide actual population estimates. We are tagging bass this year in cooperation with angling groups, and will be tagging walleye in 2018 and 2019 when the 2013 year class will be reaching full maturity.

      Q: What is the purpose of the external review the DNR has initiated?

      A: The DNR has asked Dr. Chris Vandergoot to lead an independent review of the DNR’s scientific approaches to manage Mille Lacs Lake. Vandergoot is a key member of the international team that co-manages a very significant walleye fishery in Lake Erie. He works for the U.S. Geological Survey in the Sandusky Lake Erie Biological station in Ohio. His review report will be available to the public in early 2018 and will help inform fisheries management decisions for the 2018 season.

      Q: What does the future look like for Mille Lacs walleye?

      A: It is unlikely that Mille Lacs walleye production will return to the levels that state anglers enjoyed over 20 years ago.  The ecosystem of Mille Lacs is going through extreme change, starting with increased water clarity in the mid-1990s, to impacts today from aquatic invasive species such as spiny water flea and zebra mussels. Longer growing seasons are also helping some species such as smallmouth bass but may be hurting others. While walleye will still be abundant, the future fishery will be more diverse, offering angling opportunities for a greater variety of fish.

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