Nets stuck in ice on Mille Lacs, Izatys update, McGrath madness

Lots of excitement this week. The talk of the town was the nets that got trapped in the ice on the west side of Mille Lacs. Non-Indians are very upset about it, as you can see by reading the comments on our article here

There’s a lot of emotion in the comments, and at the heart it seems to be this sentiment: The way “we” do things is perfectly okay, respectful, protective of the resource; the way “they” do things is wrong, wasteful, stupid, etc. You can go to some of the fishing blogs and chat sites and see a lot more.
Point one: Hooking mortality almost certainly results in a lot more waste than the occasional netting disaster.

Joe Fellegy pointed out in a recent Outdoor News column that catch-and-release can be harmful if people don’t know when to quit. The old days of “fish hogs” have morphed into the new days of “release hogs.” If you’re out there release 10-20 walleyes in a day, chances are you’re killing 1 or 2.
Second, for those who continue with the argument that tribes should be frozen in time and use 1837 technology in gillnetting, it’s an argument that should’ve been discredited years ago. For evidence that it’s a bad argument, let me remind you that it was one of Jesse Ventura’s favorites.
A treaty does not require the signatories to remain stagnant for all eternity. If it did, then the Brits would still be wearing red coats and using muskets, and we’d be farming with horses.
That said, I’d be all for tribes using canoes and nettle fibers for gillnetting, as long as non-Indian anglers are required to go back to 1837 technology and methods as well. No motors, no depth finders, no leeches. No more worries about overharvest!
If you don’t like tribes using boats and motors and front-end loaders and generators to harvest the fish they have a right to take, I have three words for you: Aqua-Vu, Garmin, Vexilar. Put your money where your mouth is and leave the technology on shore. Talk about something good for the resource!
I’m so old that I remember 10 years ago when a lot of anglers were debating whether use of fish cameras was ethical. Now everybody’s got one. Economics trumped ethics (as it had earlier with short-lived debates over fish locators.) I’d wager that my Grandpa Elmer, who fished Mille Lacs in the ’30s, would not call our current methods “fair chase.” So let’s not get all high and mighty about the bands using technology. To me, fishing is about sitting in a boat having no idea whether there’s a fish under you until you feel that tug on the line. But I’m old-fashioned. 
Joe Fellegy didn’t need a GPS to find the mudflats, and Grandpa Elmer’s depth finder was a weight and a piece of string.
No wonder I was never a good sports and outdoors reporter with my radical views. Good thing our readers have Rob and Viv, who are much more friendly to the interests of the fishing industry.
Feel free to respond to the incident or my comments here or on the Mess site.

I tracked down some documents from the Izatys hearings last week, and it’s interesting to read the comments from co-owner (debtor) Dave Kramber. I posted his deposition on the web.

You can read about it here.

I posted a video of the McGrath City Council meeting. Rob filmed it on Thursday night. Anyone who thinks our coverage of McGrath has been sensationalistic should watch this video. Truth is truly stranger than fiction. It’s an utterly dysfunctional council, and we’re covering it in detail in hopes that sunshine will be a disinfectant. We also have interviews with Mayor Larry Bullen and former council member Brian Schwarzbauer.

We also posted a video of some tribal gill netters removing fish from the nets and cleaning fish at Cedar Creek yesterday. I suppose that may get people worked up, too, but I think our readers/viewers have a right to see for themselves and judge for themselves. It’s always kind of rankled me that Wisconsin bands come to Mille Lacs to gillnet, but you can also argue that we do the same thing when we go fishing in Canada or Wisconsin. A lot of people taking a few fish vs. a few people taking a lot of fish. The only difference is degree. In essence, we’re doing the same thing. So I guess if you want to extend the logic, everyone should fish in his or her own back yard. That’s where I’ll be next week.

Other news next week:
State auditor’s report on municipal liquor stores shows Isle in the bottom third statewide.
Onamia and Isle prom pictures (you can see more by clicking the blue button on the web page).
A story on the “time to talk” forum sponsored by Mille Lacs Human Rights Commission and Voices of Unity.
And more!


57 thoughts on “Nets stuck in ice on Mille Lacs, Izatys update, McGrath madness

  1. One summer, it took at least 3 weeks on the north shore for the floating cesspool of death to clear up enough so that we dared enter the water again. Literally 1000’s of rotting walleye washed up — the cause? A fishing tourney. Yet I don’t recall any outcry by enraged anglers.

  2. One summer, it took at least 3 weeks on the north shore for the floating cesspool of death to clear up enough so that we dared enter the water again. Literally 1000’s of rotting walleye washed up — the cause? A fishing tourney. Yet I don’t recall any outcry by enraged anglers.

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