Does Mille lacs have a genetically inferior male population?
I have a theory about the walleye population (or lack thereof) in Mille lacs. What if through tribal harvest management, we have created a population of inferior males? After sitting through another meeting about the state of the Mille lacs fishery, listening to the same old data presentation, I have come to the conclusion that “there is no plan”. It’s a wait and see what mother nature hands us next year. For the past two years, due to late ice-out and low harvest numbers, there has been a dramatic decrease in pressure on Mille lacs. Mother Nature, so far, has been catching up and restoring the forage base to normal conditions. There are some good numbers of the 2013 year class and the 2014 has a good chance. The DNR has no new data to share or ideas to implement. I will throw my theory out there. Some facts I base my theory on:
-On average anglers have taken 72% of the harvest, Tribal harvest is about 28% -The anglers harvest takes about 10 months, the Tribal harvest is 2 weeks. – Anglers pressure many areas of the lake during two seasons; Tribal harvest concentrates almost 100% to the shallow rocky spawning grounds. -Tribal catch is as high as 60% male walleyes off theses small areas.
– Number one rule in nature…..the strong survive.
As I compare the situation to other species, Deer, Elk, Salmon, and probably germs, doesn’t it make sense that taking all the aggressive males out of their intended spawning grounds over and over, year after year, will leave us with the leftovers? Male walleyes will come into the spawning grounds in waves for up to 2 weeks. The strongest males will come in first as the weaker ones wait. These aggressive, genetically superior males are in the nets first. The second wave of male walleye comes in and they are harvested second, ETC. Eventually we will be left with either a depleted male population or one that is GENETICALLY INFERIOR. Solutions? Ideas? How about these
-Create “no fishing” sanctuaries, safe zones for these males. – Netting another time of year, or spread out through the year – increase the mesh size of the nets to allow some males to swim through. – Do not net the same areas every year, how about every three to four. – Implement my Walleye Replacement Program for the Tribes, this keeps all rights to harvest intact, but removes the conflict and labor. It would deliver Walleye to any Elder at least once a month throughout the year.
The first step to fixing Mille lacs will be the DNR acknowledging that netting and disturbing spawning grounds is a factor in this mess(I won’t hold my breath). Steve Johnson