To the editor:
With an early ice-out looming at the crown jewel of Minnesota walleye lakes, as the DNR, a governor and state/federal lawmakers sit back and do nothing, Lake Mille Lacs walleyes face thousands of feet of gill-nets poised to be set on their spawning grounds. In fact, most likely, over 50,000 Lake Mille Lacs spawning walleyes will die in gill-nets in the next two weeks.
Your DNR says "it's not a conservation issue." The Governor and both state and federal lawmakers must agree with them (contrary to Mr. Dayton's campaign promises).
Thousands of Lake Mille Lacs walleyes, protected with slot limits in place from being harvested by hook and line anglers, will swim into death traps set by an out of control Tribal regime as they spawn. Unlike hook and line anglers, gill-nets don't allow catch and release to protect those precious spawners. Thousands of walleyes within the protected slot were released by ice fishermen the past few months, only to potentially die in gill-nets while they attempt to spawn. And yes, a huge percentage of the walleyes that die in the gill-nets are over 18" inches long. "Not a conservation issue." HUH??
The kicker to this year's scenario is that the DNR says if hook and line anglers take too many walleyes this summer, they will have to close the lake down to non-Native American fishing. But the gill-nets during the spawn? "Not a conservation issue,"
Modern day ice-out is now a dreaded event at Lake Mille Lacs by the locals and the masses that fish the crown jewel. And your DNR, governor and state and federal lawmakers show no concern.
In fact, they (the DNR and lawmakers) aren't even concerned about 40 thousand linear feet of gill-netting dragging in and transporting zebra mussels to your other crown jewel lakes. My guess is Tribal boats and their equipment must be different than hook and line anglers boats - in the eyes of the DNR and lawmakers. If I'm wrong about that, then one could assume the nets will all be decontaminated before and after they kill the spawning walleyes every day. (gobs of the zebs get hooked on anglers jigs and crankbaits, but won't be hanging by the countless numbers on gill-net mesh and lead lines? HUH??) "It's not a conservation issue."
Carp? Now they rate. Al and Amy and Mark and his gang are right on them.... not caring about Lake Mille Lacs walleyes nor the thousands of voting anglers that fish them within sound fishery management rules.
Ice-out is looming at Lake Mille Lacs. Why can't I write something positive? We all look foward to that day. contact Steve Fellegy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-270-3383.
(Steve Fellegy writes a blog on Mille Lacs fishing issues at www.startribune.com/sports/outdoors/blogs/stevefellegy.html)