We started the week by attending the annual meeting of the Cuyuna Iron Range Heritage Network at the Hallett Center Library in Crosby. The Network’s mission is to tell the story of the Cuyuna Iron Range and its people. The group does a wonderful job of preserving the history of our area. I take a special interest in what the Network does as my family shares that heritage and includes some of the very first iron miners that found employment in the early underground mines on the Cuyuna Range.
Later in the week I attended the Mille Lacs Lake Fishery Advisory Group meeting. We were pleased that DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr attended the meeting. He thanked the committee for their hard work and assured the group that its input was critical in helping him make decisions on how best to manage the fishery.
The main topic for this session was reviewing what we know about the small mouth bass population in the lake. The group’s primary focus is on the walleye, but it’s also important to understand what is happening with other species in the lake.
Data collected over the past 30 years indicates there has been a major increase in the small mouth bass population. Back in the 1980s annual netting intended to collect walleye data rarely if ever included a single small mouth bass. Around the year 2000 that changed with an annual increase in numbers of bass being counted each year, which continues today.
The good news is that fisherman and the DNR have discovered that Mille Lacs Lake includes a world-class small mouth bass fishery. However, that appears to be a recent happening and we need to better understand why that has occurred. To get a more accurate assessment, the DNR will undertake some bass-tagging operations in 2017. That will help to better understand the relationship between the bass and walleye in lake, as well as help solve the puzzle of what is causing the increase in the bass population.
The recent cold weather has put ice on area lakes, however one should be cautious yet. The DNR has some recommendations on what is safe at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/index.html , please do your homework and be safe!