Busy week. On Monday morning, along with fellow area legislators, I participated in a conference call with DNR Commissioner Strommen and the DNR Fisheries Leadership Team explaining their decision to close Mille Lacs Lake to walleye fishing effective Friday, Sept. 6.
Based on the data collected through the middle of August, unless action was taken, it was likely the safe harvest level cap would be exceeded before the fishing year ends on Dec. 1 of this year. Thus, the agency acted to ensure the cap is not exceeded, which would complicate setting the winter fishing and next spring’s regulations. Historically, winter rules have allowed keeping a walleye and keeping a fish during a portion of this year’s open water season was a welcome change.
It’s exasperating that the fishing has been so outstanding, with the walleyes biting so aggressively, that this move was necessary to ensure the cap on the safe harvest level was not exceeded. Despite the frustration, it’s important that we look forward. This measure temporarily pauses walleye fishing, but should lay the groundwork for an even better walleye season beginning with ice-on in December of this year and next year’s open water season.
DNR officials indicated that previous measures to protect young walleye has allowed the population to increase to a number not observed since before 2007. That allowed for a limited amount of open water harvest this year. No one is happy about the temporary pause, but it’s important to preserve good angling opportunities for this winter and next year.
Tuesday morning, I had the honor of joining the Crosby-Ironton School District teachers and staff as they prepared for the school year that begins next week. New teaching staff were introduced and welcomed. A number of longtime staff were also recognized for years of service. TV sportscaster Joe Schmit provided an excellent presentation on the important role each of us, and especially teachers, play every day in positively influences others.
This week, I penned three letters of support for Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program projects. Emily Cooperative Telephone Company is considering a project in the Esquagamah/Round Lake in Aitkin County. Mille Lacs Energy and Consolidated Telephone Company propose to expand their system in the Nordland/Farm Island Township area of Aitkin County. Consolidated Telephone Company is proposing to expand services in the area west and north of Fort Ripley and other underserved areas in Crow Wing County.