Anglers, resort operators sue DNR over Mille Lacs situation

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 25, 2014 - 12:26 PM

A resort owner and a group of anglers cited the 1998 constitutional amendment and said changes were made on the lake without proper consideration.

hide

Lake Mille Lacs

Photo: Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Saying the Department of Natural Resources couldn’t have designed a better plan to wipe out Lake Mille Lacs walleyes than the one it has implemented since 1998, a group of Mille Lacs sport anglers and a resort operator sued the agency Thursday.

A petition filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals alleges a state constitutional amendment requires the DNR to consider the cultural heritage that has developed around more than a century of walleye fishing on Mille Lacs before issuing rules affecting the lake’s anglers.

Particularly irksome, said Minneapolis lawyer Erick Kaardal, is the DNR’s recent edict prohibiting fishing on Mille Lacs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from May 12 to Dec. 1, which Kaardal said was administered without consideration of the lake’s walleye fishing heritage.

“We think the DNR has to be responsible for their actions,” Kaardal said. “And their actions over the past 10 years have destroyed this crown jewel of the nation.

“We want Mille Lacs to become the lake it once was.”

The DNR hasn’t reviewed the lawsuit and had no comment, said spokesman Chris Niskanen.

The Mille Lacs walleye population is at or near all-time lows, and the lake’s total 2014 walleye harvest quota is only 60,000 pounds — a 90 percent cutback from the 600,000 pounds allowed just 10 years ago.

The quota is the smallest since sport anglers and eight Chippewa bands began splitting the lake’s “safe harvest” in 1998.

Anglers will get 42,900 pounds, with 17,100 reserved for the bands.

Typically, the bands — two from Minnesota, six from Wisconsin — harvest their fish in spring, while walleyes are spawning.

“Mille Lacs is the only lake in the nation where fish are allowed to be netted while spawning,” said Bill Eno, who owns Twin Pines Resort on Mille Lacs and is party to the lawsuit, along with former resort owner Fred Dally and the groups Save Mille Lacs Sportfishing and Proper Economic Resource Management.

Twin Pines is among Mille Lacs businesses that operate large fishing launches on the lake, on which as many as 20 or more anglers pay to fish. Typically, Eno said, his launches leave the dock at 8 p.m. and return at midnight — the most productive fishing hours for walleyes, he said.

“But under the DNR’s new rule, I’d have to leave the dock at 6 and quit fishing about 9:30, because I couldn’t be on the lake past 10,” he said. “I’d miss the best fishing time, and a lot of my customers who come from the Twin Cities couldn’t get to the lake to leave at 6.”

Mille Lacs anglers are limited to two walleyes between 18 and 20 inches this year. But fish that size will be difficult to catch, the DNR says, because they are relatively few in number. Also, baitfish are plentiful in Mille Lacs this year, and as a result, the bite is expected to be slow.

Kaardahl is hoping the appeals court will rule before the state’s May 10 open water fishing season begins.

“We want the court to throw out the DNR’s recent rule prohibiting night fishing [and establishing other Mille Lacs fishing restrictions], and instruct the DNR to deliver findings of fact about the lake’s walleye fishing heritage before it offers new rules,” he said.

Eno said at a recent DNR meeting, a nighttime fishing ban found no support among Mille Lacs resort and business owners. Yet the DNR implemented it anyway.

In the same rule, the agency increased the lake’s northern pike limit to 10. Similarly, the Mille Lacs smallmouth bass season was extended and its limit relaxed.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - B. Colon 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
Baltimore - U. Jimenez 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy
Kansas City - Y. Ventura 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 6:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - J. Cueto
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Houston - B. Oberholtzer 7:05 PM
Texas - N. Martinez
St. Louis - S. Miller 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Arizona - A. Chafin 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Chicago 27 FINAL
NY Jets 19
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Carolina 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Columbus
Boston 6:30 PM
Montreal
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Toronto
Detroit 7:30 PM
Chicago
San Jose 8:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Vancouver 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close