Many of you may not have seen the article in Outdoor News a few weeks ago about Big Pequaywan. The lakeshore owners want to block the DNR from building a public access on this body of water. They appear to be claiming that by allowing the public to have access, the public will ultimately spread invasive species such as Zebra Mussels and Eurasian Milfoil.
"Access to public water is an important part of Minnesota’s heritage and identity. Therefore, Anglers For Habitat supports the MnDNR Public Access Program and its plan for Big Pequaywan Lake. Blocking access to public waters is unacceptable.
However, a goal of Anglers for Habitat is to assist statewide programs to contain aquatic invasive species (AIS) and work to prevent new infestations by educating anglers to clean boats, live wells and trailers, to ensure that boats, sailboats, docks, lifts and all equipment used in infested waters is thoroughly cleaned. The time has come for increased vigilance and personal responsibility. Anglers For Habitat will work with anglers, pleasure boaters, Lake Associations, MnDNR and the Legislature to reduce the threat of aquatic invasive species."
Anglers for Habitat hopes to build coalitions for several purposes, including the primary purpose of preserving, protecting and improving the conditions of public waters to support healthy fish populations for perpetuity. AFH was initiated to bring together a consortium that could accomplish more as a unified voice for angling, clean water and habitat improvement, and to obtain and direct funding to that end.
The solution to slowing the spread of invasives is not blocking access, banning fisherpersons who don’t live on the lake or keeping the public out. The solution is building coalitions that can educate anglers and lakeshore owners to the “best practices” of preserving and protecting aquatic habitat and our angling heritage. While it is an old clique, it’s is all about building trust and teamwork.
What has 40 fishing rods,19 hats, 28 pairs of legs and catches fish? How about the first-ever Urban/Res bass fishing challenge! Fourteen kids from the Red Lake Reservation paired with four City kids climbed into 8 boats for a day of fishing. Immediately after for the next five hours spinnerbaits, Senkos and worms were being chucked at weedlines, lily pads and reed beds.
Taking kids out for a day of fishing, likely isn’t earth shattering or unique. But to each of those kids it could be life changing. To make the Urban/Res challenge work, eight Bass Tournament fishermen brought their boats up to Lake George, near
An enterprising 12 yr.old spent most of his time with me trying to figure out a way to take control of my Ranger Bass Boat for a spin around the
As the former Conservation Director for the Minnesota Bass Federation I’ve had some opportunities to look at bass tournament morality from a number of different perspectives. Research findings, DNR and tournament study results with large and small tourneys. In this past MN legislative session the fishing contest rules were amended. Part of the changes call for development of Best Management Practices for all catch and release contests. To accomplish this the MN DNR will bring together Tournament organizers and participants to help develop new practices. Summer Walleye events are required to catch and harvest all fish, while Bass and Northern Pike events can successfully return fish to the resource. However based on numerous studies, we are coming to believe that we need to move away from holding fish for extended periods of time in plastic bags during weigh-in's. This means educating both large and small tournament organizers of what not to do.
When using a plastic bag with only one to two gallons of water in it and then placing a large number of fish in it, the water in that bag reaches lethal depleted oxygen levels in less then two minutes. Then added to this is the time spent with the fish completely out of water: measuring and weighing them. When this stress is combined with the extended periods of time in a plastic bag, hypoxia becomes fatal. It also follows that larger fish reach toxic levels quicker due to their needs for H²0. And while it will appear that most of these fish will swim away, the hypoxia effect usually results in death within a few days.
If contests are to continue to use plastic bags, an improvement would be to instruct anglers not to bag fish until instructed to do so, weigh by boat number and control the time; fish are kept in the bags. This might slow down the weigh-in, but it is a price and ethic that needs to be practiced by both large and small tournaments. Better for us as bass anglers to make changes, then letting government and the public impose sanctions that are illogical. One big tournament fish kill on a lake can galvanize the sentiment the entire area against tournaments
Those darn pesky weeds are back. Yuck! The MN DNR Ecological Services is taking comments until August 14th on the Aquatic Plant Management program. Comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. At issue is finding a way to fund the program's costs, by increasing the current plant removal permit fees. For more background on the APM go to the DNR Website.
Seems to me that it is a misnomer to call a process destroy aquatic habitat; a plant management program. Fishermen tend to call things as they see them. I'd call it the Aquatic Plant Destruction Program or the Rip, Rake, Poison Program. The problem with raising the permits costs is that it just might drive folks underground. More and more I'm seeing yet another McMansion being built on a former small cabin site. Strangely a couple of hundred feet of lake shore is magically devoid of a single aquatic plant? Lake shore Associations sure make a big deal about the spread of invasive species but where are they at with keeping our lakes aquatically healthy? Most folks with expertise on lakes, know that some invasive get a better foothold in areas that have been stripped of native habitat. Anglers need to be part of stopping the spread of evasives, but don't deserve the blame they seem to be getting. I'm starting to feel a little like I'm being labeled a eco-terrorist if I fish "someone's" lake. Case in point is Zebra Mussels, the current thinking by fisheries experts is that adult clusters of live mussels are likey behind most infestations. While transportation of immature zebra mussel villigers in weeds hanging on your boat or in contained water could be a cause, I haven't seen a case study that makes a direct finding.
A few years ago the DNR promulgated a set of Alternative Shoreline Management rules. They are a step in the right direction. It calls for tighter restrictions and less habitat loss. My suggestion to the APM program is to reward the lake shore owners and associations that adopt the alternative rules, make sure that new or remodeled lake shore development receives a high degree of monitoring and make the fees and fines painful enough to deter violators.