When walleyes make headlines, don’t forget bass, crappies, and pike

Word just came out that the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has announced members will be allowed to spear and/or net walleyes from northern Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion this spring. The plan is to harvest 2,500 pounds of fish prior to the Governor’s Fishing Opener. I suspect many anglers will be fired up about this, and I also predict the tribe won’t make a statement regarding angler attitudes because they don’t care. Why should they? The treaty says they can net and spear walleyes so they get to spear and net walleyes.

Will this screw up fishing for the weekend angler who takes a small limit with a hook and line? Unlikely. Will this cause anglers to make plans to go elsewhere cutting into the bottom line of resorts on Vermilion? Probably. Will people be talking about this at the Governor’s Opener? Bet on it, because a lot of media attend the governor’s event and they are always looking for something tasty to sink their teeth into. This netting situation right before Dayton’s event is a big juicy steak for many in the communications industry.

Personally I don’t care anymore about the walleyes. Actually walleyes are beginning to make me irritable. They create too much consternation among anglers, netters, and people trying to make a living catching them.

Look at Mille Lacs – a lake that had a prosperous population of resorts surrounding the lake with dozens of launches leaving the docks every morning. Since the netting began and the DNR saddled anglers with special regulations, fewer anglers want to fish there anymore. 

The smallmouth fishery on Mille Lacs became an outstanding trophy option for anglers, but the DNR took that away to give resorters something to tout for the meat hunters who wouldn’t stay there without leaving with a cooler bulging with fillets. The regs are back now, but a lot of huge smallmouth ended up in skillets.

Look what walleyes did to Red Lake. After the tribe netted out that lake, the crappies made a tremendous effort to fill the niche the walleyes used. This created a fishery that was second to none for ice anglers in the upper Midwest. But no! The DNR stocked the heck out of the lake to rebuild the walleye population. Now the tribe is being more careful and the walleye fishing on the lake is great, but you can only keep barely enough fish for one meal.

So here we are on Vermilion. The Governor’s Opener. There will be 2,500 pounds of walleyes gone when we need them the most. Let’s just forget about the walleyes, leave the season open year around with no limits and get rid of them as fast as possible. Then we’ll have lakes full of crappies and bass. You get to eat the crappies and release the bass. Then, and only then, will everyone be happy again.

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