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has anyone heard anymore on the Bluebill decline.
last i heard was the study being done between Iowa and Agazziz Wildlife refuge. The results they were reporting is I beleive a .76 gram loss of body weight between those two points. this results in hens having poor conditioning to lay eggs and weak eggs. the weight is susected to be related to the hatchery ponds of Minnesota and stocked minnow ponds which eat up the amphipods the ills require to sustain weight. Last I heard is the MN DNR is also conducting a study to verify their findings and effects of minnow "farming". The lower amount of feed is affecting the fall flight return patterns shifting the populations both east and west of minnesota.
Any body know or hear anything else?

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This subject really ticks me off and I'll tell you why....

We (as in the people I hunt with) have had this theory all along...
1) They place fish in lakes that were not meant to have them in there in the first place, 2)then they go and stick areators in the se lakes so the fish that were not meant to be there live, 3)these fish then eat all available food such as FRESHWATER SHRIMP, thus giving divers one less source of food...in the fall AND spring. Not to mention 4) all the potholes and shallow lakes that have been turned into rearing ponds and minnow factories by private buisnesses AND the DNR.

We have been complaining to the DNR for years about this and they always just blew us off like we diddnt know anything, because you know, we are not biologists like them.

WELL, IT DOES NOT TAKE A FRICKIN BIOLOGIST TO SEE WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON!!!

Thank goodness someone took off their stupidity cap and realized what was happening!

STOP planting minnows in ponds...
STOP using shallow lakes to raise the almighty walleye...
STOP placing areators in lakes that nature never intended to have fish in in the first place....
AND START STOCKING THESE LAKES AND PONDS WITH FRESHWATER SHRIMP!!!!

enough said.

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Boys...I feel your pain. Keep in mind one other factor that is probably the main influence/bigger picture of the "health" of our wetlands here in MN. It is our geographic location relating to practices on the land.

We have great soils and land for farming (for the most part). That means that a great percentage of our prairie pothole region has been converted over to Ag. How did that get done?

Well, first plowing up our remnant native prairie (upland nesting) lands (about 1% still remains in MN). Then tiling practices in our small potholes not only drain them, but keep a constant baseline flow going into those remaining hence making them deeper and pump a lot of nutrients and sediment into them.

Wetlands remain "healthy" by going through a period of draw down. This not only allows for them to freeze out easier (hence killing fish/minnow species) but allows for the rejuvination of more desireable plant species.

There are conservation practices that will pay landowners an annual payment to restore/protect some of these areas. This could be the restoration of small wetland basin's to native grass buffer strips, you get the point. The problem is that these lands are privately owned and not until willing landowners step forward is there much (in a state wide perspective) that is going to be done.

I agree that there are things that the DNR may do that we do not agree with. But keep in mind that just as we are pushing to have better duck sloughs there are those that are pushing to have the sloughs turned into "fish lakes". So it ends up turning into a political shoving match and many times we are left with a body of water stuck in between a good duck slough and a shallow lake.

I realize that this is a great site to talk with others and "blow of some steam" but is that going to get anything done??? Contact your state/federal reps., and let them know your opinions. All can be contact via e-mail. They are the ones that can set policy.

Us sportsmen/women have to make our voices heard by these individuals or what we feel is important will get pushed asside and not be taken seriously. Did you know that we are in danger of losing many of our CRP acreages across the U.S.? It scares me to think about reducing instead of increasing these lands and the affect it will have on wildlife species???

Well I rambled on long enough. Just wanted to give everyone something to chew on.

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I am not just blowing off steam.

I have and continue to contact the DNR, lawmakers etc, etc. I'm not passive at all in this.

My point is, why screw with nature? Lakes that did not have fish in them when the white man arrived do not need to have fish in them now. If you want to fish, drive to a real lake, not some slough that was stocked so the populous did not need to drive the extra mile.

I'd gladly give up a 10 foot deep put and take fishery to have good bluebill hunting.

It's not going to happen overnight, but I am convinced once the shrimp population recovers, so will the bills and the flyway, for divers at least, will shift back.

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Bingo.

A very large part of this equation is a few large bait operations that have stocked minnows in much of west central mn.

Fish is where the money is at in this state.

I've never understood the concept of the DNR making (or attempting to make) fishing lakes out of many of the duck sloughs around here. Most turn out marginal at best for fishing and worthless for ducks.

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I had heard that the minnow introduction may have been the problem. But I hadn't heard of any studies to confirm this. The loss of these feeding areas along with nesting habitat for the bluebills is a double wammy.

Have any of the organizations like DU got involved with lobbying the state to make changes in how our small lakes and potholes are being use/abused?

Is this a MN problem or is it's scope national in nature?

All I know is that I'm not seeing many of those big ol bluebills anymore. Lots of the other divers but not the bluebills.

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I don't know about the waterfowl organizations lobbying.....but I do know for a fact that some of the large powers in the bait business are very effective at lobbying.

Until recently, I had never heard anything said publicly about this.

I have talked to some of the DNR fisheries guys and they say the Fathead Minnow is probably the largest culprit. I dunno? I don't claim to be an expert, but when there's no feed, there's absolutely no reason for a duck to hang around an area.

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jlm,
Depending on the species.

Bills eat more shrimp and other types of underwater critters than they eat minnows, if at all.

It's all about the almighty $$$....the whole thing just makes me sick.

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well put Tom....I love fishing for walleyes, especially through the ice, but would give it up in a heartbeat if we had the #'s of bluebills around that we apparently had in the early 1970's....(i wasn't born until 1984, but have heard plenty of stories from my uncle and grandpa).

freshwater shrimp is so key for bluebills....find a mid-sized lake w/ freshwater shrimp in proximity to a large body of water/ prime migration area, and you are guaranteed to at least see some 'bills these days.....

S.A.

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I have a couple ?'s. One is if the DNR didn't stock eyes does anyone think that there would be more than a handful of lakes that would have enough reproduction (naturally) to support our fishing population. Two suckers and shiners don't eat fresh water shrimp, so why are they being involved in this discussion.

GRIZ

Don't get me wrong I like my bill hunting as much as anyone, but I just had the the best bill huntin in my life last fall. It was on a lake that is loaded w/shrimp and has had sucker minnows planted in it each spring for over 30 yrs.

[This message has been edited by psegriz (edited 06-03-2004).]

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Griz, the only minnows mentioned were fatheads.

And as far as the walleye stripping goes, I don't think many of the duck slough/walleye lakes are conducive to the practice.

Most of the affected waters are the marginal, landlocked bodies that really have no inlet or outlet. The ones that have inlets/outlets, have their own sets of problems with roughfish for the most part.

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Tom, glad to hear that you are voicing things to higher authorities. Everyone else should as well.

Having an increased amount of shrimp/aquatic invertebrates is a good thing for our wetlands and waterfowl. Not intentionally increasing these populations in wetlands is one way to help this and should be supported.

In order to maintain this however it would be very beneficial for our wetlands to go through more wet/dry periods (as witnessed in North Dakota for example). As stated above this not only helps with the control of fish species but desired plant establishment.

The point I am trying to make is that there are many challenges facing the health of wetlands here in MN that need to be addressed. Minnows decreasing the amount of aquatic invertebrates (duck food), nutrient overloading, sediment overloading, rough fish (carp) stirring up the bottom which decreases clarity hence decreasing plant growth, etc. etc.

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chub

I don't know why any bait dealer would waste his time raising fatheads. 1st he'd be losing money and 2nd natural reproduction is an easier way anyhow. A pond that does not have a single fathead in it due to freeze out or something in spring can be loaded w/them in fall just due to things that happen naturally. I'm not in the bait bus. anymore but was for many years IMO the problem lies somewhere els as to lower bill populations, just my 1st hand observations.

Walleye stripping is done in rivers or lakes but the fry is put in smaller lakes to grow into fingerlings where they are harvested and planted into lakes we fish. If the Dnr didn't do this like I said in my post I don't think many lakes would hold a decent population of eyes for the # of fishermen we have in MN.

------------------
GRIZ

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All these are great points and I hope that people use wildlife as an indicator of the sysytems health. This is the first year in about 10 that I have seen bills and cans in the spring. keep raising cain about the situation as far as I am aware there is no set tracking for checking on the amount of minnow ponds in Minnesota. We have alot of issues to address from predator control, land and water management, increasing breeding grounds, farmer education ( I have just been able to get my family to start using kicker bars on the front of the tractors when cutting and bailing hay), I still feel the lack of general knowledge by the public is a contributing factor.
Well i could say a lot more but have to go for now.

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Tom, You and I are on the same page on this deal, They (the state) has to quit trying to put minnows/fish in every marginal body of water in the state just like the farmers have to stop plowing every square inch of land and drain tiling everything. Hate to say it but the land and the water can only support so much. I ALSO WANT MY BLACK AND WHITE BUTTERBALLS BACK!

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I concur with Flowage Tamer-- nothin better than hunkerin down beside a nice spread of diver dekes buckin the chop, watching those little denizens of the north rip by at Mach 6, only to make a hard bank and slip into the decoys....throw in some light snow, a little hot soup cooked in the blind, and an ol' golden retriever named Hunter and you have what memories are made of.

How many days until opener???

S.A. aka woodduckwizard from da MNRefugeGang

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its not just the minnows and roughfish that are causing the population decline for bills. Zebra mussels are also being looked at as a culprit. since they introductions into the great lakes they are very very numerous and the bills know this and use them as an easy source of food. many divers have shifted their migration routes to take advantage of them. the problem is that the zebra mussels filter out pollutants and retain them in their flesh and then pass them on up the food chain. these pollutants are known to cause the eggs of the females to be brittle and unsuccessful of the related tufted duck species.

also the breeding/nesting grounds for bills are in the boreal forests of canada and are in pretty tip top condition as far as habitat goes

also I don't like to hear people blasting farmers for draining wetlands so they can farm them. a lot of these wetlands were drained years back before people changed teir mindset on the value of wetlands.

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B. Amish...not blasting farmers at all, heck I farm myself. Just stating some facts.

There is a good article in last weeks Outdoor News that is part one of 2 that talks about wet and dry cycles and their immpact on wetlands.

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I've been saying the same thing for years. I've had awesome shrimp ponds, litterally thick with shrimp, get swarmed by 4.4 million walleye fry. Within 2-3 years the walleye were 14-18"! Then the duck slough turned into a walleye heaven. Why would the DNR do something like that?? Dump all that fry into a slough and leave 'em? STUPID!!!!

Here is a cut and paste off the DNR HSOforum of the lake I am talking about and I know of MANY others! This was in NW MN and the lake was 120 acres, 18 feet deep!

1997 Walleye Fry 600,000
1998 Walleye Fry 720,000
1999 Walleye Fry 720,000
2000 Walleye Fry 1,200,000
2001 Walleye Fry 600,000
2002 Walleye Fry 600,000

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Coldwater

Can you say you are seeing/taking as many Bluebills and Ringnecks as you did 15 years ago? (If you hunted back then)
I mean overall. Not just a hot weekend here or there.

If so, you are in a unique area of MN.
We happen to hunt near Vining, and we have never taken great numbers of Bluebills, but we used to have tremendous numbers of Ringnecks, and the Ringers are almost non-existent the past several years.
I miss my divers.......

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • could that happen???? yea probably, but unlikely.   i've been chopping or helped or watched cutting spearchucking holes since i've been about 8-10 years old, i'm 65 now, and never remotely seen it happen. ''closest i came was cut a spearhouse hole, plopped the house over it and ended up with a deadhead right smack in the middle of it. the top of the log about 4 ft below the ice!!!!!! 
    • That would be nice til you caught a log frozen in the ice and broke both your arms and your back.
    • Screw your little toy e-augers and chain saws!  😏  😆          
    • the wife and I took a little drive to Arkansas for one more ride. 
    • I get where your coming from Leech. There are some gray areas and loopholes and they know how to work them. These youtube people they want you to be angry, it all plays right into their revenue.   The thing with these youtubers is they unfortunately  have a mass following and they will tell all their fans to show up at the DNR offices, court house, call the office phones etc. And it just drives up their following, youtube views etc. and the result is just more revenue for the youtube channel and people get sucked right in (myself included). Like I said love him or hate him he's generating significant income by doing it and its like a bad car wreck you just cant look away.    In some cases the DNR getting involved the risk outweighs the reward if you get my drift. look at the crowds that came out for him over a misdemeanor jet ski fine in TN. It looks like its straight out of the movie "Time to kill" lol:   More:  
    • Another reply from the DNR Capt.  Sounds like their a bit afraid to dig in and get what the need to prosecute.   Mr. Beeeped-out  😉 I do want to thank you for your time in researching and sending us the information.  The second video in particular involves the CBoyz near Cormorant Village in Becker County.  If you watch many of their videos they are full of violations.  We have met with the County Attorney’s Office and we have been told that unless we can provide a date/time of the actual event they will decline to prosecute.  We have identified many of the players in these videos but only have a date/time of the video release and not the actual date and time.  We have also made contact with them and taken enforcement action in many of their videos.  They are not afraid to film our officers in action.  In addition the first video was a year or two old if I recall.  I will not disagree that when looking at the video there is areas of concern but unless we can observe the damage and be able to testify in court that the wetland was damaged we would likely not be successful in prosecution.  We will continue to monitor their activity and if observed causing damage we will be taking enforcement action.  We appreciate and share your concerns.  If you have any additional information please forward to us.  Capt. Seefeldt   These Jackwads!    
    • Can't stand the guy and don't watch his craap!  I was watching videos on the Sherp vehicle which is pretty cool and these two popped up.  When I saw them mowing over Wild rice beds it [PoorWordUsage]ed me off and got me to send it in to the DNR.  
    • ahh good old whistlindiesel, your just part of the click bait generating even more revenue for him now   love him or hate him he sure knows how to generate some buzz   Also he was already on the Mn DNR $hitlist for this and ticketed see below:      
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