By: Jennifer Bateman | Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Great fall fishing at Two Inlets Resort.
The state of Minnesota works hard to make Minnesota fishing the best it can be. Recreational fishing in the Park Rapids area is a popular activity, and promotes tourism in a variety of ways. Managing the state's waters and fisheries is challenging, because it involves so many entities. Involved parties range from bait dealers to professional walleye guides, fish biologists, state fishing clubs, fishing tournament organizations and aqua farmers, just to name a few.
Bob has been invited to go to the DNR round table discussions for the past three years, attending as a representative of Minnesota resorts. Whether you are interested in fishing or not, you may be interested in reading Bob's brief synopsis of a couple of the discussions below.
Until next time ~~ Jennifer
-- Pete Jacobson, DNR biologist out of the Itasca State Park offices, gave a presentation on the decline of the tullibee. Tullibee populations across Minnesota have been on the decline since 1980. This is a concern because tullibee are an important food source for growing large fish of all species but especially northern, muskie, and walleye. The DNR has developed a list of 183 lakes in the northern half of MN called refuge lakes that should be able to hold good populations of tullibee even if this trend continues. The DNR feels the answer to the decline is maintaining water quality.
-- Bethany Bethke shared a study on the trends in gillnet catch rates in the central region of MN from 1970 - 2012.
- Northern pike have increased approximately 2 fish per net over the last 42 years
- Perch have decreased about 50% over this time.
-Walleye have slightly increased during this period.
Bethany offered the following factors as possible causes for these changes:
- Longer growing season
- Clear vs murky water
- Angler harvest
- Interactions between species
- Aquatic invasive species
-- New fisheries chief Don Pereira and biologist Melissa Drake gave an update on the state of the Mille Lacs Lake fishery. Don explained that Mille Lacs is a changing system and it is preventing young walleyes from growing to maturity. The DNR has found that there are plenty of spawners that are producing enough young for the year, but for some reason those fish are not surviving. Other changes include an increase in northern pike and smallmouth bass, as well as a decrease in tullibee. This is a complex fishery with many moving parts so there are likely several factors that are contributing to these changes.
Don mentioned the following:
- Fisheries management harvest goals of 24% of biomass of 14" and over was too much.
- Clean water act and zebra mussels have resulted in a water clarity which has doubled in the last 10 years.
- Zebra mussels and spiny water flea affect zooplankton, the base of the aquatic food chain.
-Increase in northern pike and smallmouth bass and decrease in tullibee.
A graph was shown on the harvest from last year in pounds, and showed that the tribal netting was a very small part of the total take. This was not listed as contributing to the problem and surprisingly there was not a lot of discussion about it.
Don laid out the following steps to get Mille Lacs Lake on the right track again:
- A blue ribbon panel of biologists and experts from around the country has been formed to look at the past and present data.
- Northern pike and smallmouth bass regulations are going to be increased to reduce predation.
-There will be intensive field work done including a diet study.
- Mille Lacs Lake will be managed to protect small walleyes.
-A new marketing plan will be developed for Mille Lacs Lake tourism
Bob owns Two Inlets Resort located in Park Rapids, MN. He is passionate about fishing and is happy to offer his resort guests fishing advice.