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FISHERIES Mille Lacs walleye population goals set for 2017 By Mark Luehring GLIFWC Inland Fisheries Biologist The Minnesota 1837 Fisheries Technical Committee met on January 20-21 to review the status of the Mille LacsLakewalleyepopulationandsetthe total allowable walleye kill for the 2016 fishing season. In 2015 the committee agreed to a total allowable walleye kill of 40000 lbs. This harvest level was protective enough to allow for a slight increase in the Mille Lacs Lake spawn- ing stock of walleye. Still the walleye spawning population remains near the lowest level since 1983. For 2016 the committee set two primarygoalsforthewalleyepopulation. The first is to preserve the spawning stock biomass currently in the lake and the second is to protect the strong 2013 year-class.Tomeetthesegoalsthecom- mittee maintained the total allowable walleye kill of 40000 lbs.According to projections this level of harvest should allow for an increase in male spawning stock while female spawning stock is expected to decline slightly. The committee also agreed that if the spawning stock declines or the 2013 year-class is smaller than expected strong action will be taken to further reduceharvest.Fallsurveybenchmarks for these actions were set at 10 pounds per net for mature walleye and at 2.1 fish per net for the 2013 year-class. If the 2016 fall gill net survey catch rates are below either of these benchmarks the 2017 walleye fishery will be catch- and-release only for state anglers and ceremonialonlyharvestforbandfishers. The exact cause of the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population downturn remains unknown but survival rates of juvenilewalleyeappeartohavedeclined. GLIFWC and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources surveys show adequate natural reproduction and survival of walleye to the first fall but recent year-classes that looked strong in the first fall have had poor survival from the first fall to the age when they first spawn usually ages 3-5. Tracking changes in Lake Superior fish diets Great Lakes Section Climate Change Fishery Technician Ron Parisien Jr. has been collecting diet information from lake whitefish and lake trout in Lake Superior since March 2015 in an effort to evaluate and understand the food webs important to treaty fisheries in Lake Superior. These data will be analyzed and used as a holistic approach to assessing the impacts of climate change on treaty resources in the Ceded Territories. Data will also help identify potential threats to Anishinaabe lifeways and to develop and implement management strategies to deal with a changing climate and the concurrent impacts of climate change on local ecosystems species com- position and species distribution. Data gathered will provide contemporary baseline data for diets for lake whitefish in Lake Superior and broaden the current data for diets from lake trout and other species. To date about half of the 300 fish stomachs collected have been examined and the diet items categorized. For lake whitefish diets have consisted primarily of diporeia a small invertebrate known as an amphipod that lives in the lake bottom. It was frequently in the news after the invasion of the zebra and quagga mussels in the lower Great Lakes where it virtually disappeared from the ecosystem leading to large scale changes in the food web and the fish community. In Lake Superior diporeia have historically had a much lower abundance but are still an important part of the lake whitefish diet. In addition to amphipods lake whitefish stomachs examined by GLIFWC have also contained mysis which is a freshwater arthropod often referred to as an opossum shrimp. In addition finger- nail clams eggs and small fish likely cisco a.k.a. lake herring have been found in fair numbers. Also a mix of insects and tapeworms along with dirt and sand that have been sucked up with food items has been found. Lake trout diets have consisted of many of the same items with the addition of more fish including rainbow smelt and sculpin. Once complete these data will be analyzed to look at weight and seasonal changes. LVD tribe gearing up for gichi-hatchery season By Bill Mattes GLIFWC Great Lakes Section Leader WatersmeetMich.Buildingonthesuccessoflastyearswalleyestocking program the Lac Vieux Desert Band is expanding efforts to fortify more fisheries in the 1842 Ceded Territory. We want to get walleye numbers up to where they should be and provide goodharvestopportunitiessaidMitchellMcGeshickLVDtribalcouncilmember and a walleye program staffer. For 2016 the Band is considering walleye releases on a number of waters near their western Upper Michigan reservation the northern lakes of the Cisco Chain plus Bond Falls Langford Perch Marion and Chaney lakes. McGeshick said tribal fisheries staff are looking into gathering brood stockmature walleyes ready to spawnfrom East orWest Lake on the Cisco Chain. Fisheries technicians will fertilize eggs by blending in milt from male fish from aerated jars at the tribal hatchery in OldVillage the young walleye hatch-out beginning a new generation. Weve learned a lot about raising walleye McGeshick said. I think our overall production numbers will make a nice jump this year. For the second consecutive season McGeshick said cooperative work with members of the Lac Vieux Desert Lake Association will continue as well focusing on culturing walleye fry for the namesake lake. During the 2015 season the LVD Band and lake association pooled their resources to produce and release 300000 ogaa fry and 3370 extended growth fingerlings that averaged around 7.5-inches. All of those fish originated from Vieux Desert Lake brood stock and were hatched in the lake associations mobile walleye wagon. By Charlie Otto Rasmussen Staff Writer Lots of ogaa. Mitchell McGeshick a member of the Lac Vieux Desert Tribal Council who works on annual walleye propagation scoops a load of fingerlings from a tribal rearing pond. The fish were released into Lake Lac Vieux Desert last October. photo by Charlie Otto Rasmussen Less ice cover early walleye assessments Mild winter conditions have led to less ice cover on Ceded Territory inland waters this year. As a result inland fisheries staff are preparing for an earlier start to the walleye population estimate field season.When the ice goes out in mid-April or later these surveys typically take place right after ice-out to coincide with walleye spawning. However walleye use both water tem- perature and day length as signals to begin spawning activities. In years with early ice-out a lake may be open more than a week before walleye spawning peaks. In order to time these surveys right staff will be keeping a close eye on ice-out dates and water temperatures. Mark Luehring GLIFWC Inland Fisheries Biologist McGeshick said improvements to the tribes two fabric-lined rearing ponds locatedjustsouthofLakeVieuxDesertinWisconsinshouldhelpmaximizereturns onthequantityandhealthoffingerlings.As soonaswarmerspringweatherallows tribal contractors will overhaul the pond outlets installing new steel mesh screens plus adding a fresh layer of concrete to correct the pitch of the drainage shoot. Conservative measures remain in place MAZINAIGAN PAGE 4 SPRING 2016