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Lake of the woods in trouble?

  • Justin Donson
    Participant
    Posts: 165
    #2034596

    As an armchair biologist who has not researched the science of LOTW in depth, I’d like to see a smaller limit that’s proactive and maybe a look into protecting a few smaller fish. The big resorts I’ve been through in day houses are not so subtly telling people to keep 12-13″ fish to get an almighty “LIMIT”. Something like 4 walleyes/saugers in a harvest slot of 14-19″ and 1 trophy fish 28″+ seems responsible.

    People flocked like sheep to URL to harvest their 2 eater walleyes last winter. I cannot buy the argument that suddenly the resorts would see any less business if they dropped to 4 fish on LOTW.

    I don’t think they’d see any drop in business whatsoever if they dropped the limit to 4. LOTW, apart from maybe URL in early winter, remains one of the only places you can book a trip and nearly guarantee that you’ll bring some fish home with little effort(as it relates to winter ‘guided’ fishing).

    Summer fishing LOTW is pretty close to a rich man’s sport already. Not a lot of people going out in 16-17′ boats anymore. The Rainy is a bit different than that though. Not that you couldn’t, but it’s just a long ways to pull a boat that’s only going to get you on the water comfortably 1 out of 3 days up there.

    LOTW may mirror Mille Lacs in some ways, but it’s altogether a different animal when it comes to recreational traffic/fishing in the summer. I’d wager Mille Lacs gets 20-50x the recreational fishing traffic that LOTW does, just given it’s proximity to the cities, the level of residential development, and the accessibility of the lake given wind direction and speed.

    If the wind is blowing from the north(or even NE, NW), you can’t just drive to the north side of LOTW and get away from it. Combine that with a 6 hour drive, virtually zero residential property owners on the lake, and you’re looking at a whole different beast entirely.

    Rodwork
    Participant
    Farmington, MN
    Posts: 2427
    #2034629

    No one will disagree there is a ton of pressure on LOTW and there has been a steady decline in walleye. Blame whatever you would like but something needs to change. I said many years ago the limit needs to be adjusted here. No one wants to hear that but if you want more fish for the fry pan, get out more.

    gimruis
    Participant
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts: 7857
    #2034653

    This eerily sounds like an old Mille Lacs thread

    Does LOTW have other species that people can target without harvesting like Mille Lacs now does? Mille Lacs used to sustain a pretty high harvest of walleye but it seems to mostly be a trophy/sport/catch and release fishery now instead, for a variety of species including walleye.

    What would happen if the LOTW walleye population basically collapsed? The responses on this thread seem to think that is a possibility.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1204
    #2034754

    What would happen if the LOTW <strong class=”ido-tag-strong”>walleye population basically collapsed? The responses on this thread seem to think that is a possibility.

    Maybe another crappie boom? One can hope anyways

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 6966
    #2034764

    If catching and releasing spawning fish wasn’t detrimental to the population, why is it illegal pretty much everywhere else in the state

    Fishing season being closed during the spawn is due to the marketing event of the Fishing Opener, not science. I agree with you in theory, but there’s plenty of counter examples, P4, P2, SD, ND etc. Also, if you think Catch and Release of spawning fish is bad for the fishery, imagine how bad it is when putting a gill net across the spawning grounds and pulling every fish that runs into it out of the lake. All done with no oversight or supervision.

    CaptainMusky
    Participant
    Posts: 9755
    #2034765

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>gimruis wrote:</div>
    What would happen if the LOTW <strong class=”ido-tag-strong”>walleye population basically collapsed? The responses on this thread seem to think that is a possibility.

    Maybe another crappie boom? One can hope anyways

    There have been increased catches of crappies and smallmouth in the US side (Non NW Angle) area for the last several years.
    Even Lake Trout. A couple winters ago we caught 3 4 plus pound smallies on a rockpile.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1204
    #2034771

    Fishing season being closed during the spawn is due to the marketing event of the Fishing Opener, not science. I agree with you in theory, but there’s plenty of counter examples, P4, P2, SD, ND etc.

    I agree with you in that fishing opener is more based in marketing than science. However, comparing the fishing pressure of P4/P2/SD/ND to that of the LOTW/RR/RL fishery is not apples to apples in my opinion. Have you ever been up to the Rainy in April? Collectively, there’s probably more angling hours in one weekend on the Rainy in April than there is in SD or ND for the entire fishing season [exaggerating a bit but you get my point].

    For the 2019-2020 winter, LOTW alone had somewhere around 3 million angling hours and somewhere around 700,000 lbs of walleye/sauger harvest in a single winter. Summer 2019 saw 760k angling hours and almost 400k lbs of walleye/sauger harvest – and this was all pre COVID. A fishery with that pressure will need a little different regulations than a fishery getting a fraction of the pressure and harvest.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 6966
    #2034783

    Have you ever been up to the Rainy in April?

    Yeah about 14 times, and never had a fish that didn’t rocket back to the bottom. Nor have I seen a floating walleye in the river in all those years. Rainy River isn’t very deep either, which surely helps. And I regularly see way more boats on P4, than the busiest years on Rainy.

    Gitchi Gummi
    Participant
    Posts: 1204
    #2034794

    Yeah about 14 times, and never had a fish that didn’t rocket back to the bottom. Nor have I seen a floating <em class=”ido-tag-em”>walleye in the river in all those years. Rainy River isn’t very deep either, which surely helps. And I regularly see way more boats on P4, than the busiest years on Rainy.

    How does the angling pressure differ between the two the rest of the year? Apples to oranges trying to draw comparisons between those two fisheries in terms of pressure or harvest. Using the same management approach for two vastly different fisheries is going to yield different results.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 6966
    #2035859

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>BigWerm wrote:</div>
    Yeah about 14 times, and never had a fish that didn’t rocket back to the bottom. Nor have I seen a floating <em class=”ido-tag-em”>walleye in the river in all those years. Rainy River isn’t very deep either, which surely helps. And I regularly see way more boats on P4, than the busiest years on Rainy.

    How does the angling pressure differ between the two the rest of the year? Apples to oranges trying to draw comparisons between those two fisheries in terms of pressure or harvest. Using the same management approach for two vastly different fisheries is going to yield different results.

    Your point was about fishing pressure during the spawn impacting the biomass/recruitment, I don’t think there is evidence to support that. The rest of the year pressure surely impacts recruitment #’s but that’s a different conversation.

    Good link Matt, thanks for sharing!

    jumpingeorge
    Participant
    Posts: 42
    #2037948

    Agreed with a lot of what is in here, and very happy to see that people are starting to take notice, I can only hope the DNR is paying attention as well.

    The walleye limit is already 4 on LOW on the US side, Ontario and Manitoba are generally at 2 but there are other license options available up there.

    The protected slot has definitely done it’s job as there are far more “trophy” fish now than prior to the slot being put in. The problem is that there isn’t a lower limit such as 13-14″ for walleye. As has been stated in this thread, there are a ton of 12″ limits going home all winter long.

    Another thing I’d like to mention is that the DNR estimated in excess of 4 million angling hours this past winter season, over 4 times the summer pressure. Something I haven’t seen addressed on this thread is why resorts or landowners around the lake are allowed to create, maintain, & get rich off of roads on a public resource. Can I take my D9 Cat out to Beltrami and make a road from Norris Camp to Red Lake to give hunters better access to the Big Bog? Of course not, but what’s the difference? Why are we standing by and letting people get rich while destroying a public resource? The couple commenters here that said the resorts up here have a lot of clout have hit the nail on the head, I’m just guessing that they have no idea how huge that issue is.

    CaptainMusky
    Participant
    Posts: 9755
    #2037954

    The walleye limit is already 4 on LOW on the US side, Ontario and Manitoba are generally at 2 but there are other license options available up there.

    Ontario is 4 for Sport, 2 for Conservation non-resident. Not sure what it is for resident.
    Only 1 can be over like 18 inches I think, but its been 2 years since we’ve been up there. There is also no differentiation between Walleye and Sauger.

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