Mille Lacs 2006 safe harvest set at 600K pounds

By Mike Kallok

Mille Lacs Messenger

Isle, Minn. — Following DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam’s stamp of
approval, the safe harvest level for Mille Lacs walleyes likely
will increase to 600,000 pounds with tribal netters retaining
100,000 pounds of the total.

News of the increase came after the joint 1837 Ceded Territories
Fisheries Committee meeting – a closed meeting between the Great
Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and the DNR.

The strong 2002 and 2003 year-classes of walleye were the
largest factor in the committee’s decision to recommend a
95,000-pound increase for state anglers over the 2005 safe harvest
level, according to DNR 1837 Treaty biologist Rick Bruesewitz. The
two-day meeting was held Jan. 26-27.

“Overall the health of the fishery is looking pretty good,”
Bruesewitz said. Things to watch in the future will be the lake’s
lower supply of male spawning stock biomass, which was hurt during
2000 and 2001 when low forage led to cannibalism, Bruesewitz
added.

For 2006, the northern pike safe harvest level will remain at
25,000 pounds – an allotment divided evenly between state anglers
and tribal netters.

“Essentially, the increase in the safe walleye harvest level is
the only change we are recommending,” Bruesewitz said.

Input meeting

The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Input Group was scheduled to
meet on Feb. 7, after Outdoor News’ press time, to discuss slot
limits for the upcoming season. The input group is the public phase
of discussion for Minnesota anglers and the DNR before regulations
are set for the upcoming season.

Prior to the meeting, Mille Lacs area business owners seemed
optimistic the walleye slot limit will likely remain favorable for
anglers.

“We hope to get something similar,” said Bill Eno, input member
and owner of Twin Pines Resort, referring to the past two seasons
that have opened with an “under 20-inch slot,” which has been
relaxed in mid-July to any fish under 22 inches before reverting
back to “under 20” in December.

Under those regulations in 2004 and 2005, anglers were allowed
four fish with one over 28 inches.

Steve Johnson, input member, and owner of Johnson’s Portside
sounded relieved at the news that the safe harvest recommendation
had been increased.

“We’re going to have a banner summer,” said Johnson who was
reluctant to make any predictions on where the slot will ultimately
be set before seeing DNR data at the Feb. 7 meeting.

“As an input group, we’ve always looked for stability,” Johnson
said.

In recent years, Mille Lacs regulations have been officially set
as early as late February. Details of the input meeting will appear
next week in Outdoor News.

Categories: Hunting News

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