Brett’s blog — DNR/GLIFWC meeting: Excuses, apologies, you’re welcome

I’ve been meaning to do something on the July 26 DNR/GLIFWC meeting (which I tried to get an invite to but was unsuccessful). I requested documents passed out at the meeting and was promptly given a few a couple weeks ago, but honestly, I haven’t had time to do a story on it.
My excuse is that the Messenger is still adjusting to life after the retirement of a valued employee (who is not being replaced) so I’m doing my job plus a portion of hers. That leaves less time for writing/reporting as it’s pedal-to-the-metal just to get the paper out and the website up to date. And although many of our readers live and breathe Mille Lacs walleyes, most do not. We still have to keep up with schools, city councils, feature stories, event coverage, etc. Sorry, walleye wonks, but that’s the reality of my position.

I’ll still try to get something done, but for now, here are the documents the DNR sent in answer to my request.
By the way, an acquaintance of mine (who still copies me on emails even though he’s called for a boycott of my newspaper) apparently was unsuccessful in getting anything out of the DNR.
Word to the wise on requesting public documents: The information officers will often give you exactly what you ask for, and no more. If you request minutes, videos, recordings, etc. that don’t exist, you won’t get them — or anything else.
If you make a more broad request, as I did, you may get something, if the government agency is interested in following the law, which they generally are.
You’ll also get more with honey than with vinegar, generally speaking. If you go around threatening lawsuits, people will put up their defenses and be sticklers about giving you only what you specifically request, instead of being generous with the public data. (Wish I could say I’ve always followed that rule.)
I’ll post the agenda here, and will try to attach the PDFs they sent, which you should be able to download. No smoking guns that I can see, but it’s all moderately interesting, especially to aforementioned wonks.
The minutes from the meeting are being prepared by GLIFWC, which itself seems rather problematic, since they are not as accountable to Minnesota citizens as the DNR would be. Seems to me the DNR should also take notes at these meetings in service to the taxpayers. Are you listening, Commissioner?
Agenda:
DRAFT

Agenda
Minnesota 1837 Ceded Territory Fisheries Committee
Thursday, July 26, 2012 – 10:00 a.m.
Fond du Lac Natural Resources Building

1. Agenda Approval and Introductions

2. Approval of Minutes
A. January 18, 2012 Working Group Meeting
B. January 19, 2012 Fisheries Committee Meeting
3. Band Harvest Summary – Spring 2012 (GLIFWC)

4. 2012 Mille Lacs Angler Harvest Update (MnDNR)

5. Data Exchange and Review
A. Mille Lacs Lake
1. Creel Survey Report for 2011 Open Water and 2011-12 Winter Seasons (MnDNR)
2. 2011 Large Lake Sampling Program Assessment Report (MnDNR)
3. 2012 VHS Testing in Mille Lacs Lake
B. Other Lakes
1. 2011 MnDNR Summer Assessments (MnDNR)
2. 2011 MnDNR Creel Reports (MnDNR)

6. Management and Research Activities
A. Monitoring and status of Zebra Mussels and other aquatic invasive species in Mille Lacs Lake B. Forage study update

7. Proposed Treaty Fisheries Management Plan for the 1837 Minnesota Ceded Territory for the Years 2013-2017

8. MnDNR Proposal for Walleye Management in Mille Lacs Lake 2013-2017

9. Walleye Overage Plan for Mille Lake Lake 2013-2017

10. Summer and Fall 2012 Survey Plans
A. MnDNR Assessments in Mille Lacs and Other Lakes
B. GLIFWC Assessments in Mille Lacs and Other Lakes
C. Interagency Study to Evaluate Catchability of Assessment Gill Nets in Mille Lacs Lake

11. Planning for Mille Lacs Lake Data Exchange and 2013 Modeling
A. Identify Dates for Exchange of Modeling Data
B. Identify Staff Contacts for Joint Mille Lacs Lake Walleye Modeling

12. Next Meeting

Another interesting bit from the PDFs: DNR biologist Eric Jensen’s report:
LARGE LAKE ASSESSMENT REPORT FOR MILLE LACS LAKE – 2011
Eric Jensen
Aitkin Area Fisheries
Description of the Fishery
The Mille Lacs Lake gamefish community is primarily composed of walleye, yellow perch, northern pike, muskellunge,
and smallmouth bass. Other gamefish include largemouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed and black crappie. Common
minnow species include spottail shiner and mimic shiner. Invasive animal species include common carp, zebra
mussel, Chinese mystery-snail, banded mystery-snail, and spiny water flea.
Fall Assessment
Gill Nets
Walleye catch per effort (CPE) in the inshore gillnets was 9.7 fish/net and 16.1 lb/net (Table 1, Figure 1), with an
average weight of 1.7 lb. In offshore nets, walleye CPE was 14.5 fish/net and 28.4 lb/net, and walleye averaged 1.96 lb
(Table 2). The CPE of walleye longer than 20 inches decreased to 2.3 per net in the inshore nets, which is the second
lowest level observed since 2000, while the offshore nets showed a decline to a more moderate level of 4.5 fish per net
(Figure 2). As observed in recent years, the 2000, 2001, and 2004 year classes were poorly represented in the gill
nets, while the 2008 year class appears strong (Tables 3-4, Figures 3-5). Early indications are that the 2009 year
class may be relatively weak. A general lack of males were sampled from ages 4 through 13, which represented the
1998-2007 year classes. In inshore and offshore nets combined, there were 53 males and 178 females from those year
classes .
Walleye growth was below average for female and male walleye aged 1-3, and about average for males aged 4-6 and
well below average for females aged 4-6 (Figures 6 and 7). Condition ranged from about 3% below average for walleye
under 20 in to over 7% below average for walleye greater than 20 in (Figure 8). Most male walleye were mature after
reaching 13 inches in length, while most females were mature after reaching 17 inches (Table 5). The proportion of
mature walleyes that were male in inshore gill nets was near 50% (Figure 9). The number of mature males sampled in
the inshore gill nets was 74, which is similar to three out of the last four years indicating male numbers may be
stabilizing after several years of decline (Figure 10).
Northern pike CPE in the inshore gill nets declined slightly to 1.9 fish/net in 2011, from the 2010 historical high of 2.2
fish/net (Table 1, Figure 11). The average weight of northern pike in the inshore nets was 5.34 lbs. Inshore nets
sampled 10 different year classes, with most of the fish from the 2008 and 2009 year classes (Table 6). Large
northern pike (> 28 inches) have shown relatively stable numbers, between 20 and 30 in the inshore nets, since 1998
(Figure 12). Twenty-one large pike were observed in the inshore nets in 2011. The weight of mature females dropped
from the previous year’s historical high of 310 lbs to 187 lbs (Figure 13).
Pike nets sampled 124 northern pike, or 7.8 pike/net, which is the lowest observed since the pike nets were first used
in 2007 (Table 8, Figure 11). Mean weight of northern pike in the pike nets was 4.3 lb. Pike nets sampled at least nine
year classes of pike (Table 9).

Yellow perch CPE in the inshore gillnets was 44.0 fish/net and 11.0 lb/net (Table 1, Figure 14). Gill net CPE of perch
larger than 9 in has remained stable for the last five years (Figure 15). In the offshore nets, CPE was 34.0 fish/net and
10.4 lb/net (Table 2).

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