Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This is going to sound like a broken record but nothing has changed. We have had a crack of open water about a third of a mile out which extends as far as I can see to the north and south and is at least 25 yards wide for the last two days.  Our access is closed to any traffic until we get some COLD weather to close up the whole lake. Until then we just watch the ice pack float around based on the wind direction.

We will open the bath house on Friday for people who want to come up for New Year's weekend. You can fish on the south end or hit some smaller lakes close by. Just remember--No Access here this weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday,December 22, 2011

Nothing has changed. The cracks have not healed. The lake still has open water so the ice still moves with the wind as evidenced by the hovercraft rescues recently. We need cold weather to freeze everything over. Our access is closed and will be closed through the weekend at least. The lake is not safe near us.

You can view our new webcam on the website and you should be able to access it soon off our own website. The link should be done soon.

Happy holidays and wish for cold temps and no significant snow until we are out with fishhouses.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not much change. Our access is still closed to all traffic. The winds last Thursday and over the weekend really raised havoc with our ice. I cleared out our main approach where the ice had piled up. The alternate approach still has 6' of ice piled up and we will start on that on Tuesday. The problem is not with the approaches, it is with the cracks and resuting open water. I see a fair amount of open water from shore and I heard of a few problems this weekend with stranded anglers.

I can tell you straight out that the ice near us is not safe for any travel right now. Most of the ice is 7-8 inches, but there are also open water and spots which have frozen over with skim ice and are not safe. We need some cold weather to freeze up the cracks and open water patches. Also with the open water the ice can and is shifting in the wind.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday, December 16,2011

Well, where do I start? Monday, I went to the meeting of the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group with the DNR. They said that the test nets this fall showed a lower number of fish, especially among younger male fish. This is not too surprising considering that is what the Band targets with their nets and also what we target as the fish less than 18". What is very shocking and quite unexplainable is that the band was 81,000 pounds under their allowable harvest this year and we were 170,000 pounds under our allowable harvest. In fact, in the last 4-5 years the total harvest (Band and sportsmen) is around 400,000 pounds under the allowable harvest. What happened? How can total fish be going down when we have not even been close to what is allowed?

I  think there is still much to be figured out. Are the fish moving to different spots? It would certainly be reasonable considering how popular and successful the deep water, lead core line trollers have been the last few years. Has the zebra mussel growth changed fish location where maybe the DNR test nets are just not catching as many fish? Are the test nets still a valid statistical sample which can be used to estimate the total fish population? Are Band net counters and DNR creel census workers getting an accurate measure of total harvest?

One interesting fact from the DNR was that the apparantly lower young male population had not had much effect on fish reproduction. It was still very good with a very healthy young of the year fish population. Maybe the population of male fish is not all that important to the overall health of the total fish population. ( It makes me feel somewhat useless as a male).

Also, the lower number of fish caught per test net in Mille Lacs is still higher than in any of the other big walleye lakes in MN. In fact, it was higher than Leech Lake where the DNR reported fish at a "strong" level.

I do not mean this to seem as a condemnation of the DNR. They have a very tough job to do and ,in my opinion, the people responsible for the testing and biology work are dedicated to doing their best in a very tough environment. Having said that, I feel that the numbers they work with are estimates of uncertain accuracy and maybe we are trying to micromanage a huge body of water beyond our capabilities. Because of our agreement with the band, the lower number of fish per test net this year means we do not have the possibility of going over our maximum harvest. If we get close, the DNR will have to change the slot limits.

The DNR also said they fear that the fishing will be very good this winter and also next summer. The forage is somewhat lower also so the fish may be biting aggressively. They certainly know how to rain on our parade and make what would be wonderful news any other time seem like bad news. They were trying to warn us or at least make us aware of a potential problem.

The walleye regs this winter have not changed. The limit is still 4 walleyes with a protected slot of 18" to 28" with one walleye over 28" allowed. Considering that the fishing was good this summer and very good this fall and we were still 170,000 pounds under our allowable harvest, I am not losing any sleep about regs for next summer. The DNR said the maximum harvest for next year may be around 10% less than in 2011, that still allows a significant harvest for 2012. I say enjoy a very good winter, eat some walleye, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!

On to ice conditions and fishing. Until thursday, we were enjoying very good fishing and excellant ice conditions. The strong winds yesterday caused many cracks with some ice pile-up and many water spots. Some of the water is around the cracks, but some open water is also present. Adding to this is the fact that it is supposed to warm this weekend . Our access will be closed this entire weekend with no traffic of any kind allowed. We need some cold temps to heal everything up. I wish I had better news.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

We have been getting out for 3 days now with ATVs and snowmobiles, as well as walking. The ice is around 7 inches and the fishing has been very good. Most people are fishing along Agate Bay Reef (ABR) in 16 to 25 feet depending on the time of day and cloud cover. I have heard from several groups who have done very well towards sunset along the reef in 20-23 feet, jigging with minnows. Hope to have a webcam installed within a week so watch for that!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ice report December 9,2011

I was out checking ice this morning. There was 5-6 inches of ice all the way to the reef. There were several small cracks which is not uncommon on early ice. By Sat am we should have 6-7 inches if nothing bad happens. At this time, we will be allowing walking and ATV/snowmobile traffic this weekend. HOWEVER, this means one person per ATV or snowmobile with a sled ot tub. It DOES NOT mean an ATV pulling a trailer with people and all their gear riding on it. If you need to pull a lot of weight, the bays down by Isle have more ice and that may be a better bet.