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Monday, July 22nd, 2024

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Monday, July 22nd, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Angling advocacy organizations call for Minnesota DNR to re-examine Lake Mille Lacs data and methodology

Ron Schara, president of MN-FISH Foundation, said there’s still many unanswered questions about the regulations on Mille Lacs, and he’s hoping the letter will encourage the Minnesota DNR to step back and reexamine its methodology for 2024. (Stock photo)

St. Paul — A pair of angling advocacy organizations, led by the MN-FISH Sportfishing Coalition, sent a letter to Minnesota DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen on Tuesday citing their concerns about the 2024 walleye regulation for Lake Mille Lacs. The DNR recently announced that walleye fishing on the lake will be catch-and-release when the inland waters season begins on May 11.

“Minnesota anglers are well conditioned by the historical variability and highly restricted harvest levels that have been placed on Mille Lacs over the years, yet this particular decision and explanation of the data shared by the DNR does not seem to correlate with their experience,” MN-FISH wrote in the letter.

The letter to the DNR noted observations from area guides and resorters that the agency’s test-netting during increasingly warm-water autumns is missing a solid percentage of the lake’s walleyes. (Stock photo)

Ron Schara, president of MN-FISH Foundation, said many anglers this past winter observed the opposite of what the DNR is citing in justifying the regulations. Mille Lacs anglers, he said, saw well-fed walleyes and a plethora of perch, a key walleye forage fish. The DNR maintains that it’s seeing skinny walleyes thanks in part to a low forage base.

“The Mille Lacs regulations that they sent out in a news release raised a tremendous number of questions in the minds of anglers,” Schara said. “We, as MN-FISH, looked at that and said, ‘whether DNR will do it or not, we think it’s our responsibility to ask them to take another look at their data and reassess it.’”

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Schara said there’s still many unanswered questions about the regulations, and he’s hoping the letter will encourage the DNR to step back and reexamine its methodology for 2024.

The letter cited a couple of key points the group has heard from anglers and other constituent businesses in the area, notably the challenging ice-fishing season that resulted in low angling pressure, and presumably lower harvest.

“What DNR stated didn’t necessarily go with what the perception of anglers was, and that’s a fair question,” Schara said.

It also noted observations from area guides and resorters that the agency’s test-netting during increasingly warm-water autumns is missing a solid percentage of the lake’s walleyes that remain suspended in deeper water late into the year.

“It is for these reasons we respectfully ask the Minnesota DNR to re-examine the fisheries data and methodology used when making the 2024 harvest decisions for Mille Lacs and share the findings with a more comprehensive report for state anglers before the Minnesota fishing opener on May 11th,” the letter stated.

Erik Evans, DNR assistant communications director, said the agency didn’t have an immediate comment about the letter and intends to respond directly to the two groups that submitted it.

In addition to MN-FISH, the National Marine Manufacturers Association also signed the letter. See the complete document here.

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