Thursday, August 6, 2015

Walleye Fishing Over on Mille Lacs for 2015

Charlie and the last walleye caught in my boat legally on Mille Lacs
It finally happened, 15 years of total mismanagement by both the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the State of Minnesota have resulted in the closure for all walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs starting August 4th to December 1, 2015  After pre spawn netting by the tribes and targeting those same size fish that are netted, the allocation of walleyes to the public have been reduced to 28,000 pounds for the 2015 fishing season on Mille Lacs. I would love to go ballistic regarding this terrible political situation (IMHO) however I am bound to keep my mouth shut and not pollute my post with anything but fishing yet it's difficult because it affects both my favorite fishing destination as well as my friends that are severely impacted by this ineptness.  What makes matters worse is sitting on the side watching the slow and inevitable decline of the lake and there is little you can do about it.  So, I have decided to provide links to articles that better explain the situation and the Princeton Union-Eagle is a small town newspaper which does an excellent job and probably best leans towards my political views regarding this.  My first link HERE is the announcement of the closure of the walleye season on Mille Lacs on August 3rd. The second link HERE really does a nice job of documenting the latest issue regarding the Governor's visit to Isle, MN and the local reaction to the situation.  HERE really says it all in regards to my feelings about the situation and whole hardily agree with Joe Ward as I am a member of PERM and fully support their charter in dealing with this problem.  So the closure of walleye season really had no restrictions which is interesting.  I suspect I can troll for northerns or muskies this fall on the reefs with large stick baits like a Rattlin Rouge, or fish smallies on the deep reefs with leeches, I'm not even sure what this all means and if I catch a walleye it certainly must be released.  Ridiculous is all I have to say about it.  I have 2 friends in Alaska, Jeff King and Keith Holtan, both run salmon fishing guide service on the Kenai.  This year because of declining populations, the first salmon run which occurs in late May thru June was cancelled which quite frankly affects their income.  I would bet that if you did some research you would fine that the same issues that plague Mille Lacs are eerily similar to those that shut down the fisheries on the Kenai.  The more things change the more they stay the same. I am in constant communications with my friend Bill Lundeen, I feel bad for him and I wish I could do something as I am helpless other than keep pressuring our government to make changes in the way they approach the problem.  Good Luck!

The star of the show!
So my last official walleye trip was last Wednesday when I had the pleasure of taking both Chuck Teasley and Dan Hoene in my new boat.  Charlie is a friend from way back and Dan is his buddy from high school. Each year Chuck comes to Minnesota with his family to visit a camp on Lake Carlos near Alexandria.  We try to get away during that week and this year it worked out that both he and Dan could make it.  The plan was to meet at the pole shed, drive north to Mark Applens place, go out to dinner, then fish the big lake.  When I showed up at the pole shed both guys were there but to my surprise Chuck had a new addition to his right leg as it now was aluminum and Dan was hobbling around on a cane that Chuck had made for him.  Quickly loading up the boat we headed north as I got the story.  Chuck had a serious motorcycle accident years before I met him and his leg was mangled up pretty bad.  Over the years it became worse and eventually it needed to be removed below the knew.  Dan was a star college hockey player for Michigan but degenerative arthritis has blessed him with 3 hip transplants, the third was recent and he still needs some rehab.  I was glad I had the new boat as it would be much more comfortable for them as I felt fortunate to be able to spend some time with these 2 great guys.  After dinner at Hunter's we headed to Mark;s place at Fisherman's Wharf, settled in then sat outside on the picnic table enjoying a few cocktails, a nice cigar that Dan brought, and the beautiful full moon.  Unfortunately the wind had picked up from the west and although it made the evening mosquito free, it wasn't looking good for tomorrow's wave action.  Waking up to 30 mph winds, we decided to head to the west side and launch where it would be so windy.  After stopping at Bills to get bait we arrived at the landing only to be greeted by the DNR's AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) unit and trust me, with the walleye closure upon us, I was in no mood to be hassled by these guys.  I know it's not their fault and most are simply interns doing a job but they need to know how screwed up their future employer really is.  As well, we were the only boat in the landing, another waste of tax payer dollars, oh well.  The waves were terrible and 1/4 mile out from shore they 2 feet and breaking.  It really forced us to simply drift the rock humps south of Sherman's point where we did get some fish including my first walleye on Mille Lacs for the year, a 11 incher.  Chuck ended up catching the 2 largest fish for the trip, a 16 inch walleye and a nice 17 inch smallie.  As for Dan and I, there were no pictures worth sharing as we stayed in that 9 - 12 inch walleye range.  Because of the wind it was really hard to fish so our pattern was a simple nightcrawler rig  pulled along the bottom as we drifted out until it becam uncomfortable then repeated that pattern.  Being pretty beat up by the wind and waves we headed back to the landing where in an attempt to secure the boat I fell off the front step and landed back first in the water but not before my side hit the step and caused a huge bruise.  Thank God there was water to break my fall.  Now with 3 of us "crippled" up we headed down the road for dinner at the Long Siding Bar, it was pretty good.  Arriving back to the pole shed we said our goodbyes to another year, another good time with friends, and the reality that we are not getting any younger.  I am already looking forward to our trip next year.

Lory's Golden Redhorse
Saturday gave me an opportunity to finally get the jon boat out and start fishing the river.  After cleaning it out, hooking up the electronics, and starting the motor (3 pulls BTW) I was ready for a planned trip up the river with Lory Brasel on Sunday.  After getting a few things done we headed to Blair's landing and up passed old town where the Crow River joins the Mississippi.  It's amazing how dirty the Crow river is and how it affects the water clarity down stream.  Because it joins from the south, the north side of the river stays much more clear until it gets close Blair's.  Fishing wasn't very good as I only got one 8 inch smallmouth and had a few strikes but no hookups.  We decided to anchor on the downstream side of Cloquet Island however when I dropped the anchor it didn't hold very well, probably because it came untied from my anchor rope and is now sitting on the bottom in 10 feet of water.  With no means to hold us in the current we decided to go down to our neighbors dock, tie up and fish the flat area in front of his property as the fish tend to feed in those areas. With a glob of nightcrawlers we casted into the current and it wasn't long before a fish grabbed Lory's and started running up against the current.  We landed a nice 6 pound golden Redhorse, took a couple of pictures and let it go.  Overall the fishing is bound to get better on the river and luckily I have another anchor to through on the boat so I should be back in business.  On interesting thing, when I pulled the boat out of the river something looked funny and sure enough, I had left the "earmuffs" on the motor that garden hose attaches to for running it out of water.  The prop had torn it up pretty bad and to be honest, I am lucky that it didn't interrupt the normal flow of the water to cool the engine.  Just another thing to replace.  I am not sure if I'll get out this weekend as we have a wedding in Mondovi, WI and it's fall fest time in Independence, my wife's home town.  Either way it's like every weekend, busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest!

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