Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Minnesota’s world-class Mille Lacs smallmouth fishery demands protection

Tubes are a consistent producer when it come to summer smallmouths.
This, Albert’s biggest smallmouth bass ever, weighed perhaps 4 pounds. At Lake Mille Lacs, a fish that size is hardly worth mentioning. photo by Joe Albert

I’m not the sort who spends a lot of time watching sports, (the Minnesota Vikings notwithstanding), but I was glued to my computer for parts of two weeks and weekends this past September. First was the Bassmaster Elite series tournament on the Mississippi River. And shortly after that was the Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship at Lake Mille Lacs.

In both cases, I was curious to see how Bloomington, Minn., bass pro Seth Feider would do. (He placed second on the river and won the event on Mille Lacs.) As I watched him mop up on the smallmouth bass on Mille Lacs – Feider won with 15 bass that averaged more than 5 pounds apiece – I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed to have not realized exactly how awesome the lake’s smallmouth bass population is.

Feider basically won by catching 15 smallmouth bass that each would be the bass of a lifetime for many fishermen.

And as I listened to Feider and the other pros on stage each day as they weighed their fish, they reinforced something I really believe: The smallmouth bass population in Mille Lacs needs to be protected, pretty much no matter what the cost.

There’s no disputing that it’s currently a world-class fishery, and the lake’s smallies have generated tons of positive press for the lake and local area. Certainly, it’s hard for some people to get excited about smallmouth bass in Mille Lacs when it’s been known as such a great walleye lake, but what’s in the lake now is well worth protecting.

The DNR plans to take a closer look at the lake’s smallie population in 2017, and hopefully that will provide a sound basis by which to institute regulations that will protect – or continue to protect – what’s pretty much the world’s smallmouth bass-fishing crown jewel.


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