When you head to Mille Lacs Lake, do you go in hopes of catching a few walleye and maybe enjoying a nice shore lunch, or do you dream of coming home with a picture of a monster musky? What does fishing this beautiful lake mean to you?
In the news this week is a lawsuit brought against the Minnesota DNR regarding its rules for Mille Lacs fishing. The non-partisan watchdog group PERM (Proper Economic Resource Management) is claiming that DNR mismanagement is to blame for the dwindling population of Mille Lacs walleye, and contends that the recent prohibition of night fishing (which applies between 10pm and 6am, from May 12 to Dec 1, instead of the usual three-week-long ban) tramples on our fishing heritage rights.
Fishermen know that when it comes to catching walleye on Mille Lacs, heading out during evening hours is usually rewarded with a hot bite. So, if the walleye numbers are dwindling (safe harvest numbers have fallen dramatically over the past 10 years), it makes sense that the DNR would deem those hours as the ones to limit as they work towards increasing the population.
PERM’s stance is that Minnesota’s Preserve Hunting and Fishing Heritage constitutional amendment, passed in 1988, is being violated. An excerpt from that amendment (used from Dennis Anderson’s article Anglers, resort operators sue DNR over Mille Lacs walleye fishing rules reads “…hunting and fishing and the taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good.” And many argue that it’s the walleye that make Mille Lacs Lake a popular Minnesota fishing destination.
Not everyone believes walleye is the superstar species of Lake Mille Lacs, however. As WCCO TV Channel 4 reports in DNR Being Sued For Alleged ‘Mismanagement’ Of Lake Mille Lacs , PERM also contends that the DNR’s management strategy favors trophy fishing instead of walleye fishing. As we all know, it’s those sizeable musky, pike and small-mouth bass that give many other anglers a reason to head north with their baitcasters and cameras. And it’s those fresh water monsters that, while providing great stories and impressive photos, are feeding on more walleye.
The DNR has yet to legally respond to this lawsuit. What do you think they should do?