Brian Borkholder, fisheries biologist for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said there has been some misunderstanding about an item in this past Sunday’s Outdoors pages about the band’s spearing on Mille Lacs Lake this spring.
Here’s a summary of the band’s harvest plans for Mille Lacs, according to Borkholder: Overall, the band has an allocation of 2,034 pounds of walleyes. On the first night of spearing, 20 band members will be allowed to spear 20 walleyes each, but only two of those walleyes may be less than 15 inches long. The restriction on spearing walleyes under 15 inches long is designed to protect the abundant 2013 year class, which state and tribal biologists are hoping will help the troubled Mille Lacs walleye fishery rebound.
“We’re going to encourage band members not to take small fish,” Borkholder said. “Our goal is to protect the 2013s, just like the state is doing.”
On the second night of Fond du Lac spearing, the band’s remaining allocation will be distributed among an as-yet-undetermined number of spearers. Their limit probably will be less than 20 walleyes, Borkholder said, and will include a restriction yet to be determined on walleyes less than 15 inches long.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials announced open-water regulations for Mille Lacs this past week. Anglers may keep no walleyes and must use only artificial lures during the open-water season starting with the May 14 fishing opener. The only exception to the artificial-tackle rule is for commercial launch operators who acquire a permit from the DNR and agree to provide data to the agency for a hooking-mortality study.
Management of the Mille Lacs fishery is administered jointly by the DNR and eight Native American bands, including Fond du Lac, that retain harvest rights under an 1837 treaty.
Rainy River walleye, sturgeon update
After an early ice-out on the Rainy River — March 12 — and good early walleye fishing, action has slowed, said Phil Talmage, Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor at Baudette.
“We had a rainstorm, and the tributaries opened up, and the water (in the Rainy River) got all mucked up,” Talmage said. “That slowed it down. But it’ll clear up, and the walleyes will get going again.”
Walleye fishing on the Rainy remains open through April 14.
Sturgeon fishing remains good, Talmage said.
“Sturgeon are not bothered by that turbid water,” he said. “They still bite.”
Anglers can now launch out of Wheeler’s Point, Talmage said. A channel in the ice was opening into Four-Mile Bay as of Thursday, he said.
Lake Superior fishery plan due soon
The long-awaited revision to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Lake Superior Fishery Management Plan likely will be out and available for public comment by early April, according to DNR officials.
At that time, anyone interested will be able to comment and provide feedback through an online survey and questionnaire. Details on where to find the revised plan and how to comment will be announced when the plan is released.
The Lake Superior plan is revised every 10 years and was last revised in 2006. DNR fisheries officials have met over the past year with a panel of stakeholders to gather input in revising the plan.
National parks to offer free week in April
As the National Park Service celebrates 100 years of protecting the nation’s parks and monuments, Americans are encouraged to get out and visit a park during National Park Week, April 16-24. All National Park Service entrance fees will be waived for the week, park service officials said.
National Park Week will kick off with National Junior Ranger Day on April 16. Parks will host kid-oriented activities and distribute the new Centennial Junior Ranger booklet and badge. Throughout the week, many parks also will host Every Kid in a Park events, which encourage fourth-grade students to visit national parks and other public lands by offering a free annual pass.