You either love ’em or hate ’em. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of gray area in between. Muskie nuts will put a second mortgage on their house to support their toothy-creature habit. Walleye fishermen will cringe at the sight of 50-inch predators resting in the shallows. There are a few anglers who do seem to sit on the fence regarding these giants—trying their luck casting giants baits in a late summer sunset and noticing that certain lakes do seem to support a healthy population of walleye while offering up record muskies.
Where do you sit?
The topic has become heated among Minnesotans who spend a lot of time on one of their 10,000 lakes. Recreational lake users and property owners joined muskie anglers during the recent discussion as the DNR released plans to stock muskies in new bodies of water including Gull Lake near Brainerd.
Fears of invasive species, too many new boats, crowded accesses, dangers to swimmers and more have been brought up by opponents of the plan. The dissension heard most involved the precarious walleye population. Time and time again researchers and biologists released reports regarding these arguments. The reports generally support muskie stocking, so this fall the first muskies will be released into the popular lake in central Minnesota and also the Fairmont Chain of Lakes in southern Minnesota. Time will tell what effect it will have.
To be clear, I sit in the middle. The only invested interest I have in this argument is the newsworthiness of the topic. If people are talking about it, then it’s something that we need to examine with Northland Outdoors. I have definitely seen the appeal of “The Chase” as Jeff “Jiggy” Anderson calls it. I can’t afford to go all out with said “Chase” on my own, but I get it. I also understand what it’s like to get a meal of walleye in the live well.
Property owners also have a right to voice their opinion on a matter involving lakes in their area. That’s what makes this country great. It doesn’t mean they own the water and can dictate how the water is used, as that’s the job of our resource managers. But I’d hope they would care enough of the lake they’re on to speak up about how it’s used.
The DNR has planned this muskie stocking for a number of years. It wasn’t something someone suggested over a cup of coffee in March while waiting for the ice to melt. When concerns regarding the plan were brought up by opponents, they listened. Eventually they decided against stocking for now in a few of the planned lakes, but went forward with Gull and the Fairmont Chain.
Muskie fishing has been the fastest growing segment of the fishing industry in the region and it’s shown no signs of slowing. Do we have ample opportunity to catch muskies? Some would argue that we do. Others would disagree. With as many lakes as we have now, it’s seems like having more options for a fish with as much appeal as the muskie can’t be a bad thing. Introducing a new species to a body of water isn’t to be taken lightly and it seems as though proper thought was put into this plan.
According to the DNR, the Fairmont Chain will receive 314 muskie fingerlings (10 inches long) every other year starting this fall. In 5 years, those fish could reach 30 inches. In 10 years they could reach that magical 50-inch number. That will get a lot of muskie anglers excited. And these days, doing anything to get anglers excited—particularly younger anglers—is something we all should embrace. In Gull, the plan is 2000 fingerlings every other year.
About the only thing that would get anglers more excited these days would be a return to keeping a healthy limit of walleye on Mille Lacs.
Jeff Anderson will join us on Northland Outdoors Radio this week to offer his opinions on the stocking plan, plus we’ll find out what his favorite muskie baits are, where he targets fish during different times of the year and if is getting excited about late summer/early fall muskie fishing. Find a station and time to tune in here.
And let us know below what you think of the muskie stocking plan.
Bret Amundson is host of Northland Outdoors TV and Radio and can be reached at 218-855-5841.