Warm weather coming

Looks like we are in for some warmer weather. Resorts will have road updates when you get to where you are going, caution as the weather warms the ice moves.

Walleyes continued to show up this week and weekend, usually by this late in the season it becomes very tough. Hmmmm must be quite a few  swimming around. Reports from the deeper water seem to hold the bigger walleyes, good numbers of 11″-16″ walleyes continue to show up almost everywhere. It’s been on of the best winters I have seen for walleyes, even when you’re not trying.

Some of the biggest perch I’ve seen in years have been showing up, though not high in numbers they are impressive,14″ impressive. Smaller perch to sort are in many areas of the lake but the big ones have been coming out of the deeper water like the walleyes. There must be forage because they are fat. They could be hitting the bloodworms in the mud.


2/27/16 Hunters Point resort

8am to 2pm. Top 10 perch.

230 Mad Hatter contest

3pm drawing starts




Posted in Fishing Reports

What can we change?

To: MLFAC Members

What can we change and why are we here?

My opinion,
We were appointed to the committee to evaluate and advise the management process of Mille lacs to sustain a viable fishery.
Thrown on top of that is a constant barrage of “issues” that are presented to us. Some issues are targeted as “possible causes” of a decline in walleye biomass, none of which can be changed or influenced.
We must always remember that the advice we offer or ideas we come up with, must fit into the round hole of TREATY FISHERIES MANAGEMENT or it will be DOA.
Everything we are doing, every presentation we see, every manipulative management decision practiced, all of it falls under the Umbrella of TFM.
They ( DNR ) talk TFM to inform us how they do things, never considering restructuring the whole thing.
There are a quite a few people ( including some DNR ) that think maybe the only way to change anything is to change everything.

Mistakes that occur because of TFM practices.
– Protecting a large year class of walleyes that they know will devastate forage and YOY walleyes for years to come.
– Creating a catch and release practice that does much more harm then good.
– Over harvesting small fish, males, to keep pounds low.
– Economic catastrophe brought on because of PERCEIVED conflict, crisis, and historically low walleye numbers.
– Huge PR mess for the area and the DNR.
– Data collection methods not accurate enough to be applied to a Management practice that requires it.

So, where is change even possible?
We CAN’T change or influence any of the following “issues”.
– Water clarity.
– Water temperature
– Zebra mussels ( 25% decline )
– Spiny water fleas. ( unknown effect )
– Zooplankton levels. ( no baseline or understanding )
– Forage production (stocking walleyes would add some)

So what CAN we DO or change?
– We should consider the impact on the economy of management decisions as well as the health of the fishery.
– Start a stocking program.
– Predation control ( Northerns )
– Eliminate Mortality formulas, (Mortality occurs due to “tight slots” to stay under the TFM quota)
– Under sampling (The lake is too big and the effort too small.)
-Change the approach to a biological management system, not a protocol appeasement process. Actually sit down and eliminate all the noise of TFM and create a management system that is not based on quotas and creel.
-Change protocols to address allocation and harvest methods and timing. (These need to be addressed)
– Explore a compromise with the bands, millions are spent annually by the state of MN on other Tribal compromises.
– Explore a WALLEYE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM as a part of a compromise.
Now would be the time to think about any “ideas, solutions or changes” that you have, see if it fits in the TFM PLAN. If it doesn’t fit or agree with the DNR data it will be DOA.
As all of the drama goes on above the water, she is in full production mode. I am experiencing the best winter bite in 30 years.
What more can she do to appease the DNR?
She has been putting out walleyes and forage to feed them.
She has done her job now let’s do ours.
CHANGE THE SYSTEM. This whole process is beyond insane.

Steve Johnson

Posted in Fishing Reports


Manipulation and Starvation
I know many of you want to hear what is going to be done about Mille lacs, so in a word, NOTHING!
Because nothing can be done to 132,516 acres of beautiful water that has always been taking care of herself.
The DNR/GLIFWC Biologists can do as many studies as they want, and find issues every time, and solve nothing, because they study, they don’t do.
They don’t possess any tools or ideas that can be applied to a lake of her size except controlling angler/tribal harvest numbers and a shot in the dark under stocking program.
Now they have decided to use the tool of harvest, and intentionally manipulate the 2013 year class.
The stocking will be nothing but expensive forage.

She is producing exactly what we have been waiting for, MORE WALLEYES.
Now, too blinded by data, they are asking her to do even more.
“Keep producing young walleyes every spring and while you are at it give us a forage boom too. We really need it so we can feed all the walleyes we decided to leave in the lake.”

I am laying this at their feet:
To manipulate her this way could end up with these hungry walleyes eating first their young, and then start wiping out the rest of the forage until gone. Worst part is it ends with weakness and death by starvation.

Mille lacs loyalists know Im on the right track here, many of you have seen what I’m describing, she has always had her cycles, her ups and downs, it always happens, it’s mother nature and she has been doing her job.
But now they want to try and intervene in the process. I much prefer the success they get by leaving things alone.
Study our beloved Mille lacs all you want, but don’t ask her to keep making up for your manipulative mistakes.

Restructure the TFM protocols to take care of the lake and the community, or it will never end.

“TFM where all good ideas come to die”

P.S. Wow! What a weekend on the big pond, too bad some of you stayed home.

Posted in Fishing Reports

Reel Creel? MLAFAC Update

Don’t question the numbers of the DNR (DATA NERD READERS).

The creel numbers came under fire at the MLFAC meeting. As expected they hug and hold their data close and believe,believe, believe.
If the quote:
” For the first time in 30 years” is not a red flag, I don’t know what is.
The DNR creel press release claimed that the pressure on Mille lacs dramatically increased in the month of July and surpassed June ” For the first time in 30 years”
The creel is claiming that even after the 1 busy day on the lake July 4th, that there were as many as 400 boats a day on the lake through the month of July, wha?
The Creel summary for the last 2 weeks of July showed we harvested about 250 walleyes, with over 40,000 angler hours recorded and caught over 22,000 walleyes,wha?
The sad part is these are the numbers that DNR used to shut down the JEWEL OF MINNESOTA.
I cant seem to find anyone that saw more than a boat or two on the water on any given day. ” They told me that I cant see the entire lake,wha? (As if I sit on shore gazing).
I am asking all of you now that were on the lake in the last two weeks of July, did you see hundreds of boats around you?
We got a look at the raw data that the creel clerks collect (3500 pages) and enter into the modeling machine.
I went through many of them and I could rarely find a legal walleye harvested, but the Creel is ACCURATE, and don’t question it.
This was brought up by us and the DNR already has an APP that can do just that, but didn’t tell us.
Public Creel input at real time through either an APP or website. So anglers can supply data in real time to the APP and those numbers could be compared to the DNR CREEL.

– Were any of you witness to the 200-400 boats on the lake in late July?
– Would you be accepting of an APP to gather real creel data?

Visit my Facebook page and comment on my post.

Posted in Fishing Reports

Fish Wrapper 1/28/16

Mille lacs update
By now many have heard that the bite on Mille lacs is good. We have seen some nice fattys in the mid 20’s. Also there are some slot fish being caught. But the story is the sheer numbers being caught in the 11″ to 16″ range. It seems the 2013’s are everywhere and in huge numbers, (handle them carefully) I believe we have 2012’s and 14’s mixed in but the 2013 is boss. They are aggressive and I believe they may be getting short on forage. The pigs this year have bellies on them like we haven’t seen in awhile. There is an abundance of small perch and tullibees that are keeping them fed. Some Jumbo perch ( 12″+) have been caught and seem to be showing up in a few places. Lots of perch to be caught and sorted of course, you can get some nice 10″ for a great meal.
Its been one of the best winter bites I have seen and most of it came in the last 3 weeks of late ice.
I believe there is a very very large 2013 year class and and its eating machine is just kicking in. Hopefully they graduate to a new forage like the small perch, but then what? The DNR has decided to protect all of them so that eating machine will only shrink because of starvation and mortality formulas.
She is cycling as usual and putting out a huge year class and we should use the only management tool we have, harvesting some. But my guess is the DNR will gift us with a 1 fish summer and few extra pounds with a catch and release benchmark. They will own the decision to protect the eating machine and the consequences that become of it, oh wait, thats our job!
MLFAC meeting tonight, I will update.

Posted in Fishing Reports


Mille lacs DATA vs. TRUTH and MAGIC

Those of you who fished Mille lacs this summer know that it was a fantastic Walleye bite. Those of you who avoided Mille lacs missed out on some great fishing and catching.
DNR collected data and their conclusion has been that Mille lacs has a depleted walleye population. This would be a complete opposite of the actual activity of walleyes that went on this summer.
Why did walleyes bite in Mille lacs this summer?
2 reasons this may happen.
1. There is a forage shortage (not enough to eat).
2. There is a good population of walleyes.
Now if you ask the DNR, they will tell you that there is no forage crash ( eliminates reason number 1 ) and the population of walleye is low ( opposite of number 2 ).
So the only reason we had such a great bite is simple,
With 35% of normal pressure on Mille lacs this past summer, those few anglers released 200,000 pounds of walleyes. Harvested only about 13,000 pounds because of the tight slot and limit of 1.
Skip ahead to the present winter bite and we are right back at the MAGICAL MIRACLE OF MILLE LACS. Reports started right away this winter, great walleye fishing,Jumbo perch showing up and the Northerns have been active too. Walleye of all sizes are being reported, the largest number being the 2013 year class 13″-15″ and the 2014 class 9″-12″.There are walleyes from 15″-20″ being caught and the big walleyes are plentiful coming though the ice.
Look at social media ( Facebook etc.) or call any resort on the lake and you will get the same story, fishing is great on Mille lacs. But, how can this be?
Mille lacs is managed with a system relying on accurate data, the DNR considers the 20-30% margin of error in the data going in as acceptable. Huh? To determine the success or the “harvest” they again use an inaccurate (creel survey) type of data collection. This also has a high MOA. So if they are inaccurate on the input (low) and again inaccurate on the outcome (high) we have been double damned.
In my opinion,
Mille lacs has and always will be a Mother nature controlled cyclical monster that cannot be manipulated in a positive way by anyones actions.
1. Clear water, this was blamed on zebra mussels starting in 2008, now because zebra mussels have DECLINED 25%, they say the clear water started in the early 90’s because of the federal clean water act. ( nice switch ) Wind,rain,algae blooms, all effect the clarity on a daily basis.
2. Zooplankton is too low in the lake ( spiny water fleas and zebra mussels are the cause ) to support the smallest of  baitfish etc. Yet we have walleye year classes coming in and we have baitfish that is not lacking and everything seems to fat and healthy.
3. Netting in the spawning areas is not now nor ever has been a problem. Their DATA shows that walleye production is VERY good. This will need to be proven to the anglers on Mille lacs and in Minnesota (who find it culturally offensive )in some other way, maybe another STUDY.
So here we are heading into the black hole of the unknown,waiting for the DNR  to meet with the Biologists and determine the fate of not only Mille lacs lake but the entire community surrounding it. I will not drink the magic  kool aid they keep handing out, I will continue to look at the actual activity that happens on Mille lacs every day. I believe it is more accurate than having a few biologists spending a few hours on the lake and shoving their data into the laptop waiting for the winning lottery ticket to come out of it.
Rant continued later.

Posted in Fishing Reports

Fish Wrapper

Fish On!
A few of you have been up here getting into some great early ice walleyes. For as few anglers that have hit the ice, its amazing how many good to great reports we are hearing. Its a lakewide bite,south to north. Walleyes from 10″ to 17″ are being caught in high numbers, yes there have been slot fish as well. Big walleyes as a bonus, biggest so far was 30 1/4″ 10#+. Jumbo perch are showing up bigger than I have seen in a long time, smaller 8-10″ are plentiful too. Northern pike is a yes on any day in the bays and some pigs have been taken in deeper water too.
Ice is ATV ready in most areas but not ALL! There is some light vehicle traffic, check in with the resorts.
We are getting a late start,but we still have 6+ weekends left in the season and the fishing is great!
‪#‎dothelake‬ ‪#‎onlyinmn‬ ‪#‎millelacs‬

Posted in Fishing Reports


MLFAC update #4
Good news first: The DNR has no clue what is going on right now on the early ice bite, so since the fishing is fantastic on all species we will keep this to ourselves.
Ice conditions improve daily and by this weekend there will be resorts pulling houses in some areas. so far we have had many happy anglers enjoying the bite.

YOU CAN’T, WE CAN’T, WE WON’T, WE HAVEN’T, is how most of the answers start from the DNR when we ever bring up any subject matter outside of the TFM box.
When asked if “ANYONE” has ever offered to sit down with the band and talk COMPROMISE? The simple answer WE HAVEN’T.
Can we attend the FTC meetings? Answer WE CAN’T.
Not a KOOL AIDE drinker here, everything, all decisions about management is based on data with a margin of error of 20-30% depending on who answers the question. Most of the anglers and resorters simply shake their heads when told how few fish are in the lake (disagree) and that there is no forage crash (agree), yet we all saw the how the catching was this summer and how the winter is following the same route. HMMMMM? Fat healthy Walleyes in all sizes were the norm this summer.
3 Main areas Of concern for me under TFM
1. 30% data MOA “margin of error” on population of walleyes.
2. TFM is assumed accurate using this input and success and progress is based on #3
3. CREEL survey results that also have a 30% MOA.
So if you are low on the population “input” and high on the creel survey “outcome” you are double damning us. Welcome to Mille lacs management.
We listened to the legalize of the court agreements. We listened as they told us they have never made an effort to change the system, only to blindly follow the TFM rules and never question.
NETTING: “Spring gillnets are not an issue as we have good production every year” This arguement will never go away until proven one way or the other. I suggested a Grid/Area study to actually look at the eggs themselves inside a netting area and inside an “off limits” netting area. It has been done before in other lakes successfully so why not here.
As I write this the DNR is ready for the FTC meeting, they know exactly what they will be putting on the table and yet they will not tip their hand to us. ( more sleepless nights).
We were asked about next summer regulation goals “given no clue as to any numbers” most of us said to avoid closure of the lake, this opens the door to blame the group if they decide to go to C&R at somepoint. One person on the MLFAC was ok with closing the lake, it was the same one that said we should not have opened the winter season. I will let you find out who this is.
I asked why the DNR does not involve the public on data collection through a website or something? Well Ill be darned, its already in use by Bass groups and the U of M has its own version,yet our DNR didnt even know it. They stated that they gave logbooks out 1year to launches and it didnt work so they quit. BRILLIANT!

WE, not the DNR, at some point will attempt to open a line of communication with the BAND and at the very least talk. The higher powers have their model gods to follow blindly as they always have.


Posted in Fishing Reports

Ice Updates

Ice & Fishing Reports for 1/6/2015

Lybacks Ice Fishing from 1/6/2015 – Yesterday only four groups of anglers went out. Their reports were mainly Perch during the day and Walleyes at dusk. The very strong south wind kept fishermen close to shore and looking for windbreaks.  Today I’m going to start checking ice depths farther out and staking where our roads will eventually be (hopefully next week with this cold coming). Our plans (weather allowing) are to finally get things going around here and get houses out for customers. Tomorrow I am going to pull some more rentals that are booked for the weekend and a few privates houses that will ATV/Snowmobile to them as I will not allow vehicle traffic yet until I can measure 12? of ice. ATV’s will be allowed to pull out wheelhouses up to 2500lbs starting today in some areas also.

Red Door Resort from 1/6/2016 – Ice is checked to the mud! We have staked a trail to the north end of the Bombeck and Weimer flats and are finding 8″ plus consistently. Bob and Shawn are checking ice further and we will follow with results. The perch bite has been the big news for early season with many strong results of jumbo’s 12+ inches. Walleye bite remains strong for multiple year classes and our guests coming back smiling! Check out the great pics shared by our guests. Please share pics and information to our newly formed email address at pics.reddoor@gmail.com to share photos and information to keep our guests well informed. We are hoping with the cold weather coming in, we may begin pulling houses next week.


Walleye caught by Matt Thompson

Fishermen’s Wharf Resort from 1/5/2016 – Average of 7″ out to Shaw’s Reef. Some areas with more, and some areas with less ice. Seeing lots of snowmobile & ATV traffic with portables in the bay. Fishing reports mostly consisting of some large walleye with a few small perch. Come up & get your January fish on!

Nitti’s Hunter’s Point Resort from 1/5/2016 – We started plowing off the harbor we have 10″ inside the bay. After the first ice heave we only have 6″ of ice. We continue allowing wheeler and sled traffic. Fishing reports this weekend were great. Walleye were coming in at depths from 16′ to 25′ moving on top of structure in morning and late afternoon. Sizes of walleye were also surprising we were seeing fish from 12″to28″. With a few keepers sprinkled in. Perch report was some big fish being caught off structure in 28′.

Castaways Resort from 1/5/2016 – For the most part we have 8-10 inches (1.5 miles, Carlsona, and to 3 mile) everywhere. However – Wilderness area broke up this morning (Tuesday) with 2 cracks with spider breaks and flooding.  We do have a bridge out on our main road right before the road to Wilderness. We are only allowing wheeler and snowmobile traffic.

Mac’s Twin Bay Resort from 1/4/2016 – We are getting ready for the cold weather which will hopefully build enough ice to start getting more houses out. Ice is still variable, but we do have about 4 miles of roads plowed.  Snowmobile and 4-wheeler traffic are still ok. Unfortunately, we don’t anticipate allowing driving this weekend but we hope that after the cold sets in, perhaps by mid next week, that might change.
•Right now, we have 6½ -11”” in bay. Main road is plowed to Road I
•Roads A, B, and C are plowed and have about 8-10”
•Roads E, F, and I vary from 6-9”
Fishing reports are still sounding good. Folks are seeing lots of fish. One group speared a couple small northerns followed by a 30 incher. That was a fun one! Another group caught 8 walleyes Saturday evening, with one in the slot. 10’-14’ seems to be the favorite. Spearers seem to be doing better with decoy minnows vs. artificial decoys and smaller suckers. Bigger minnows are doing well, too, for spearing and tip-ups here in the bay.

Agate Bay Resort from 1/4/2016 – In spite of the warmer temps, we are making ice. Where we had approximately 3 inches, we now have 4 – 5 inches and where we had 7 – 8 inches, we now have 9 – 10 inches. There is really no cold weather coming this week until the weekend so I doubt we will make much ice until then. I will check later in the week to see if we will be open for 4 wheelers. We will certainly be open for walking out.   I talked to people who went out on other parts of Mille Lacs where they had more ice and everyone caught fish. The most prevalent was the 2013 year class (13 – 15 inches) but I did hear of keepers and larger fish as well. I did not talk to anyone who was fishing or spearing for northerns so I have no report there.

Rocky Reef Resort from 1/3/2015 – We are sitting with 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches of ice right now. It is putting it down very slowly. We will see what we end up with by the end of the week. I would like to have 10 inches to set the foam houses out, but we need enough ice to support the 1200 lbs that they weigh and not have flooding issues because of the thin ice conditions out there. The guys have been making it out to the humps and the fishing was great. They caught a lot of fish from 15 to 17 inches and of course there were a couple of nice fat pigs from 25 to 27 inches caught also, the slot limit is 18 to 20 inches with one fish over 28 inches a limit of one fish. I will keep you up to date on the ice conditions as usual.

Be sure to follow these businesses via their Facebook or website links provided.  Share your Mille Lacs fishing photos with us on our Facebook page and tag them #dothelake

Posted in Fishing Reports

Ice Update

Ice Progress!
Getting reports of 6″- 9″
Some resorts are staking roads already. For the few anglers that have been out we aren’t hearing much whining. Northerns are active in the bays both tip-ups and spearers.
Some nice perch 9″ + in good numbers this year,good sign for the next few years for a perch bite.
Ive seen some nice walleyes caught and heard reports of the 14″ hitting some baits too.
Everyone is chomping to get out, but BE SAFE!
My guess is by next weekend we will have things in gear and moving.
‪#‎dothelake‬ ‪#‎onlyinmn

Posted in Fishing Reports
Shirt Specials

Web Cams

  • Nitti's Hunters Point - SE side of the lake
  • Chapman's Mille Lacs Resort - Isle Bay on the SE corner of the lake
  • MNLakeCams.com - view of Hawkbill Point on SE side of lake
  • Hunter Winfields Resort - Isle Bay on SE corner of lake
  • Fiddlestix Golf Course - 6th or 9th Fairway
  • Contact Us

    Portside Bait & Liquor
    1 mile North of Isle on Highway 47
    (320) 676-3811
    Email: steve@johnsonsportside.com

    Bait & Convenience Store Hours
    7am-9pm SUN-THUR
    6am-10pm FRI-SAT Mean Walleye