Friday, February 7, 2014

Fishing Report and Update as of 2/7/14

This has been the most stable week we have had this year.  Note, I said stable, not warm.  At least, we have not had snow or high winds so for the first week this winter, we did not have to plow all of our roads and driveways.

Fishing remains unchanged.  It has not gotten better or worse.  I think that until we get an extended warmer period, what you see is what you get.  They are seeing and getting some perch in 27 - 28' and some walleyes and northern are biting along Agate Bay Reef.  It is just not consistent in any area.  

I would like to address the new harvest quota, the DNR and the "sky is falling" attitude I hear everywhere.

Last summer, after the ice finally went out, we had a decent bite on keeper fish (18 - 20") thru about the end of June.  The larger fish also bit quite well thru the same time frame.  Once the young of the year perch reached the size where they were good forage for the walleyes, the bite slowed dramatically.  It has stayed slower all the way thru the winter.  I believe this slow bite is caused by the vast numbers of small perch and, as I said earlier, the cold fronts every other day.  The walleyes remain in the lake.  They are just not hungry.

The DNR and the band have agreed on a very low harvest quota for next year in an effort to protect the larger spawning fish and the fewer smaller fish that will enter the 14 - 18' range.  They say, however, that we probably can keep the same slot regulations as what we had last year.  People have reacted as if the "sky is falling" and I do not understand this.

To me, we are better off than we have been for a few years.  The DNR finally has addressed the problem of juvenile survival of walleyes.  They have shown an appreciation of the problem and are putting time and resources to work to solve the problem.  They are asking for outside help which I think is huge.  When have they ever admitted that they may not have all the answers.  I doubt that the solution will be easy but I have confidence that the DNR can solve it, now that they are facing the issue.

In addition, I believe that there are more walleyes out there than most people think there are.  The band had almost no harvest last spring and the harvest last summer was low, especially if you discount the DNR's "hooking mortality" numbers which I do.  I think that is the most wild guess there is related to Mille Lacs.  This winter, we have not hurt the population any.  So for a whole year we have not taken a lot of walleyes, at least compared to past years.  We have taken very few of the walleyes over 20" so basically, all of them are still out there.  Why do we not see them or get them to bite?  A LOT OF FORAGE.

So many people believe the bite is dependent on the number of walleyes in the lake when really, forage availability is a much bigger factor.  The walleyes do not have to concentrate on the rock piles looking for food.  It is almost everywhere in the lake.  For the same reason, the remaining walleyes may not have concentrated in the few areas where the DNR sets their test nets.  Why should they?  There is food everywhere.

So... are we worse off now because we have a fantastic hatch of little perch which should protect our larger than normal, healthier than normal walleye hatch from last spring and let them grow bigger, as well as, hopefully give us a perch population to catch is 3 - 4 years?  Or were we better off a few years ago when the walleyes bit like crazy because they were starving and when you caught one, their mouths were all torn up from multiple catch & releases?

Are we better off now that we are a high priority for the DNR and everyone is watching them so they have some pressure to succeed?  Or were we better off when no one other than Mille Lacs people seemed to care?

Mille Lacs has always had ups and downs, generally in a five to seven year cycle.  This is because we are a natural reproduction lake with no walleye stocking.  I think this is an unusually low low but we have had some years with pretty low harvests.  I think the high forage will impact the bite for a little while but the large walleyes will bite again.  It will be a lot of catch & release and that is not a bad thing.  If you want to have a lot of fun and help the lake, take a few hours each weekend and go catch northerns and smallmouth bass.  Keep anything that is legal and cook it up.  You will be surprised how good they taste and how much fun it is.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014

It has  been a while since I have updated this, but there has been little change. The wind blows and it is cold. What's new?

Seriously, we now have most of the roads we usually plow. All of our rentals and most of the private houses have been out for 2-3 weeks. The roads are in good shape except they are getting way narrower than usual. The winds and drifting snow are taking their toll. Lake Street, in particular, is very narrow in a couple spots. I hope the wind and snow stop or we will have trouble getting houses off. Lake Street can not get too much narrower.

The winds and drifting snow are also giving some houses problems with rising water. You may have to block the house higher or move if the water is too bad. Be sure to keep an eye on your water level both before and after you drill your holes.

Fishing has been a challenge this year. We have seen some nice walleyes, just not consistently. It has been very difficult to find a pattern. We have seen walleyes caught shallower on the reef during the low light periods and also in 24-25' during the same time. The abundance of forage(little perch) does not help. Neither do the constant cold fronts coming thru every other day.

We are finally starting to see a little perch action in 27-28'. Some of them are nicer sized, along with lots of young-of-the-year perch. We moved some rentals out deeper to try to get more action. We plow spots for wheel houses in the better areas and we are open for them, along with portables.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sorry- I forgot this.

Sorry, I forgot to address portable and wheel houses. We are open for any of them as of now. We restricted them last weekend, but we are completely open for them now. Our access fee for vehicles and portables is $ 10 per vehicle per Calendar Day, not per 24 hour period or $25 for Friday- Sunday.

For wheel houses on a daily basis, we require that you leave a driver's license with us to ensure that the house does not get left on the lake. The access fee is $15 per Calender Day or $40 for Friday-Sunday. For that, we will plow you a driveway to get your house off the road and we would strongly recommend that you stay on the driveways we plow. It is not a good time to go exploring off road.

We have portable toilets on the lake and a very nice heated shower/toilet facility on shore which is open 24 hours per day. We also have a café on shore with excellent meals.

New Roads- January 15, 2014

We were able to plow Perch Parkway on Monday but there was a rough water spot out about 27-28 feet which we have stayed off of to let it freeze down. We pulled some houses out over the bad spot today and it was solid. We will pull out there and we are past the 28-31 foot break, all the way to 34 ft. in the mud.

We have not plowed Tullibee Trail yet, mainly because we ran out of time and also because of the Very strong winds for tonight and especially on Thursday. It would just blow shut. I do not think we will have time to plow it on Friday because we will be plowing the other roads, doing driveways, and putting rentals in. We will get to it as soon as possible.

We also plowed part of Walleye Drive. We had a road from Lake Street going southeast we called Rental B. It stopped at Walleye Drive near the south end of Agate Bay Reef. We were able to extend Walleye Drive north from that intersection about 250 yards before the snow and other problems stopped us. We will probably not plow that all the way north to our main road. If you go on Walleye Drive, you will have to go around via Lake Street to get there, at least for now. We will pull houses in there now. Going south from that intersection, we hit a very large area of water and slush which we are allowing to freeze. I believe we will be able to go south on Walleye Drive this weekend but maybe only be able to put houses on the west side of the road. There is a lot of snow and water east of Walleye Drive, especially where we normally put Flamingo Drive. We will not be putting that road where it has been in the past. We could run a road north of where it has been about 50 yards, but we will not be getting south of that. There may be a chance for a road going east quite a bit south of where the old road was in the past, but I am not sure because the water kept us from going south of the intersection yet.

We have made the decision to stop carrying bait during the winter. It was a tough decision, but our minnow tank is getting old and we have quite a bit of loss due to dead minnows to the point of not making any money off bait. It is very expensive to replace our tanks and we do not see the cost/benefit to doing so. There are several bait shops in the area who do a good job. If you are coming from the south, try Rod's Bait or Johnson's Portside, both of which are in Isle. If you are coming from the north, try either Malmo Market or Westerlund's in Malmo. I know all of these people and they will treat you right.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday January 12,2014

We pulled private houses since Thursday and we have quite a few out. We have had very few problems with them. There were a couple where they took on some water and we had to move them, but no more than usual. We were selective where we put houses and stayed away from areas with a lot of snow so we avoided slush.

We have most of our rentals out and will get the rest out this week. Fishing picked up this weekend and there were quite a few really nice walleyes caught. Some perch are being caught in deeper water and we hope to open Perch Parkway this week. Surprisingly some small eelpout were also caught. It has been a while since I have heard of any numbers of eelpout being caught. I think the warmer temps helped the fishing and now that the weather is leveling off for a while, it should continue to improve.

We continue to see a large number of small perch which are this year's hatch. The numbers are really big and it is a great sign for the future of the lake. It will slow the bite for this year, but it is exactly what we need to  improve the fishing in Mille Lacs.

We restricted drive-ons and wheel houses this weekend to make sure that all of our private houses had room. We have now opened the resort to portables and wheel houses without restrictions, except for staying on the roads and not drilling holes in the roads. If you are accessing the lake with a wheel house and you are taking the daily rate, rather than the season package, we require that you leave a driver's license to ensure that the house comes off when you leave. We have done this for many years.

We are open and going well. Our roads have been open for quite a while and have frozen down and we are starting to catch some nice fish. If you have a house here, come up and get it out and if you are looking for a rental, call and reserve it soon. The rentals are filling up quickly.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ice Report- January 7, 2014

We had blown the snow off Lake Street before the Deep Freeze so it froze down quite well. We also pulled houses on Archers Ave on Saturday and Sunday morning without any problems and people drove to and from their houses. I put a few rentals out for the weekend and they were on good ice.

Today we plowed Lake Street and it has frozen down well, at least on the road. We also plowed driveways off Lake Street and we will let them freeze down until Thursday, when we will begin pulling private houses along Lake Street. We do not have Walleye Drive or Perch Parkway yet and I can not promise when they will be done. We will start on them next week.

If you pull your house out, you will be allowed to drive your vehicle to and from your house. If you want to fish in a portable, use a 4 wheeler or snowmobile. Do not go exploring in your vehicle. Stay on the roads. Today, I was walking about 10 yards off Lake Street and stepped into a 12 inch pile of snow, slush, and water. It is NOT all frozen.

As in the past, pulling is first come/first served. Get on the list when you get up here and we will get to you as soon as possible. We have plowed the lot across the highway and lakeside, but if you want to speed the process up and cushion your pulls, please shovel the snow  away from in front of your house before we get to your house. We appreciate it and it is easier on your house. It is supposed to be really nice this weekend so it would be a great time to pull your house or rent one of ours. We still have a few openings for this weekend so give us a call.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ice Update as of 1/2/2014

Main Road and Archers Ave are open.  We will try to pull some houses in Archers starting Saturday.  Snow blowing on Lake Street is going well but we still have spots with thinner ice.  It should firm up now that the snow is off.  We hope to be pulling along Lake Street sometime next week or by the weekend.  We do have a few rentals out off the end of the main road.  We have a 4 hole/2 bunk and a 6 hole/4 bunk available this weekend.  You will be allowed to drive your vehicle to and from your house if you choose to go into Archers.  Otherwise, It is 4 wheelers or snowmobiles only.

We are working extremely hard trying to open roads and Lake Street should be open soon.  You should be aware however that we may not have all of the roads that we typically have.  We probably will not open Walleye Drive for its full length.  We will try to get access to the south end of Walleye Drive and the end of the reef.  We just don't know when.  This may be a year to select a new spot along roads that have been opened.  We want to accommodate everyone but mother nature is not cooperating.  If you are planning on coming up this weekend or beginning of next week, we will not have bait.  We should have it by Thursday.  Thank you for your patience