Before I get started, I'd just like to say that I am no biologist. I am however a man who has a deep passion for fishing, I've often wondered if I'd ever start to grow gills myself. I am one of the predators in the balance and I also think about the impact I have on any given body of water I might be fishing. There are many debates about what is classified as "eater" size fish. Some people claim 12-15 inch walleye to be perfect for eating, while others claim those are the fish we should let grow up. 15-20 inch walleye are the eaters in their books. Same goes for many species of fish the topic might be blue gills or bass, but everyone has a different opinion.
What I'd like to talk about now is not the size of eater fish from one fisherman to the next, but the quality of fish in one lake to the next. I'm guessing I've been seeing these signs posted by the Minnesota DNR at public access for 10 years now, maybe even more. You know the ones, Please harvest pike under 24 inches and let the ones over 24 inches go. I maybe should have called them first to get some numbers and facts as to how well this program is working. If you look at the other lakes you hear more about, you know, the larger ones that have more places to stay and there is more money to invest in them. Mille Lacs, Leech, Upper Red. Even smaller lakes that local Lake associations work hard at improving and are doing great things with the DNR to improve fishing for everyone who uses the lakes. Osakis, Miltona, Ida, Fish Trap, Alexander and the list goes on with great fishing reports from them. But what about all of these other small lakes? I've been fishing some of these lakes for over 30 years now and have seen little to no change in the fish populations or size of the fish in these little gems. I often wonder about over harvest, could all of those nice fish just be heading home in the cooler? I think not! I've been fishing them way to long not to bump into a real bumper crop of really nice fish. I use the DNR web site to pay close attention to the numbers and years of the fish surveys and the stocking programs in a hand full of little lakes around here, and despite many efforts to improve the fishing in many of them, nothing seems to change, at least not for long. I try to pay close attention to what others are fishing for around me on these lakes and what they are catching. I listen to my friends who fish these lakes as well and the story seems to be the same for the past 20 years or more. All of these little lakes used to have one little resort that is now long gone, and so are the story's and memory's being made on these little lakes. I love listening to some of the old timers in the area tell story's of how some of their first travels to the area were from out of state on vacation to some of the little resorts in the area. How people settled and move to this area because of the fishing. Looking at pictures from the past and seeing there is proof that people once fished in wooden row boats and had stringers of huge walleye and blue gills big enough to clear a golf course of all of the golfers running to get in their boats for the action. I know these waters were once home to many of wall hangers and they seemed to have very little help doing so back then. I wonder if it will take 30 more years to try and fix what seems to not be doing any good at the present time? Maybe we should try a different sign?