Thursday, February 28, 2013

We have pulled all of our houses off as of last Sunday and we are closed for the winter. If you still want to fish for perch, I think you would be better off going out of a resort who stays open and maintains roads. That way if you have problems there will be someone either at the resort or on the ice to help you.

We would like to thank all of you for making this a great winter. The fish bit very well, although we could not keep very many. We got out early and for most people it was 10  or 11 weekends of ice fishing. It does not get much better than that. We had some snow issues with all of the drifting and we know some of you had a great deal of frustration with the snow pushed up by your doors. We will try placing houses a little different next year and plow driveways past the doors instead of right up to them. We apologize for the inconvenience.

We attended the meeting with the DNR last night. I am a charter member of the Mille Lacs Fishery Input group and I do not think I have ever missed a meeting. We are in a tougher spot this year because of the test net results from last Fall. The nets showed a very low population of walleyes in the lake and the DNR has to base their harvest numbers on those results, even though I believe they think there are a lot more walleyes in the lake. They cut the harvest number in half and the band cut their allowable harvest in half also.

 Without this low allowable harvest, we could work to get rid of some of the big walleyes in the lake. Everyone around the lake believes that there are just too many big walleyes, along with the number of northerns and smallmouth bass. The large number of predators are eating all of the small walleyes before they get a chance to grow up. The DNR is going to open up the slot and bag limits for northern and bass. If you want to help the walleyes, fish for northerns and bass and keep what is allowed. We need to get rid of some predators and take some pressure off the walleyes.

The DNR is going to do a tagging study this summer to see how good their test net results were. I believe it will show a lot more walleyes than the nets did. If this is the result, I believe the DNR must reevaluate how they gather their data. The limits and slots affect too many people way too much to be using Questionable data. These decisions affect people's lives.

When they are done, hopefully we can set some slots which will allow some harvest of the walleyes between 20 and 26 inches. Under the present rules and system, male walleyes are protected for life as soon as they reach 17 inches because they will never exceed 28 inches.

Next year's regs were not set last night. The DNR sets those by themselves and they can listen to the comments and do what they want. It seems like they want a 2" slot from 18-20 inches with either a 4 fish limit or a 2 fish limit early and then changing to a 4 fish limit later in the year. We will still be allowed one over 28"

They also put forward some radical ideas for additional regs mostly designed to cut down on the hooking mortality which could be a huge factor this summer, especially if we have a warm summer. The ideas included extended night bans, live bait restrictions, and requiring the use of circle hooks with live bait. A few of the resort owners were very much against all of the ideas and the DNR dropped them quickly. Too quickly in my opinion. The DNR estimates that the 2" slot will still put us over our allowable harvest and the people who spoke up want to gamble that we will not hit it. Maybe if we go to the 2 fish limit early and then change it later to 4 fish, that will be enough  to keep us under the limit. Otherwise maybe we should have discussed the ideas further. Would we be better off with a night ban that ran thru the July 4th weekend and get a 4 fish limit all year or maybe a night ban that ran from 9:00 or 9:30 rather than 10:00? I do not know and neither do they because the discussion was halted. Should we have considered circle hooks? Maybe, it can not cost that much to change hooks and the DNR estimated a reduction of 20% in hooking mortality nwith their use.  What do you think? I would like to hear from you if you have an opinion. Email me please.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I think this weekend was a quirk because before then we were doing well for walleyes in all of the rentals. They were mostly bigger walleyes ( no surprise there) and keeper fish were harder to find, but the bite was good, especially for the time of year.

This weekend was a tough bite for all of the houses, not just the rentals. There were fish, but they did not want to bite. I think this weekend will be much better. This weekend is the last weekend of walleye fishing and is our last weekend for the winter. We will have all of our houses off by Sunday afternoon and will close until spring. The Perch Extravaganza is held this Saturday at Hunters Point and you can win one of two Ice Castle fishhouses in the prize drawings.

We have 2- 4 hole/2 bunk rental houses still available for this weekend. We also had two late cancellations on larger rental houses. We have a 6 hole/4 bunk house and one of our Premier Ice Cabins ( 5-7 people with many deluxe amenities). See our web site for a description of our standard and Premier houses. We will rent them for weekend specials- noon Friday till noon Sunday- only at this time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Premier Ice Cabin for the last weekend of Feb. (Perch Extravaganza) is gone. We still have one left for this weekend, which surprises me, but it is Viking's Arctic Blast and we have some snow so it should be a lot of fun. Come see your favorite current and past Vikings and do some riding. If you are not into snowmobiling, you can drive to the sites and still see the players, get autographs, and win drawings.
Sorry for the delay in new reports. The ice has held up really well. No new heaves or cracks. Do you ever remember this much wind? It has been really windy since summer. We have only gotten maybe 4 or 5 inches of snow and we have drifts 5 feet high around some houses. Everyone really needs to watch their skids to make sure they stay out of the water. Chiseling a house out is no fun. Most people only do it once.

We have moved all of our rental houses, mostly deeper and they are still catching walleyes, mostly big ones. We have not found perch in any numbers, but what we catch are generally nice ones. The set lines are still outfishing the jiggers  by a large margin.  Rainbow minnows are the favorite, with shiners second.

Our roads are in good shape with no bridges out. This week is the Vikings Arctic eBlast and we have one Premier Ice Cabin left. For a long time it was the only Premier house left for the year, but we have remodeled another Premier Ice Cabin and it is available for the last weekend of February (think Perch Extravaganza). These are deluxe houses with Honda generator, satellite TV with DVD player, microwave, and private, heated, detached toilet. They are very nice and everyone, especially ladies, have loved them.

We have gotten enough snow that it is rideable so this weeknd should be fun.