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Field reports: DNR reviewing draft of revised Lake Superior fishery plan

After six months of input from a citizen advisory group, fisheries officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have written the first draft of an updated Lake Superior Fishery Management Plan.

After six months of input from a citizen advisory group, fisheries officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have written the first draft of an updated Lake Superior Fishery Management Plan.
The plan is now being reviewed within the DNR at the regional and state level, said Cory Goldsworthy, DNR Lake Superior Area fisheries supervisor at French River.
The plan, which guides management of the Lake Superior fishery in Minnesota waters, was last revised in 2006. The DNR, with public input, revisits the plan every 10 years.
By mid-October, Goldsworthy hopes to have a draft of the revised plan available for review by the Lake Superior Advisory Group, a 25-member panel made up of fishery stakeholders. The panel met with the DNR six times from January to June to offer input on the plan revision.
The draft plan will be put out for public comment at a series of meetings in late November or early December with a goal of having the final plan out by Jan. 1.
Goldsworthy said the DNR appreciated the input it received from advisory group members.
“It went as well as can be expected,” he said. “We had some great discussion. One of the things I love about this job is the passion of the stakeholders we get to work with.”
Steve Ford, an angler from Grand Marais, took part in the process as a member of the advisory panel.
“It was fine,” Ford said. “They (the DNR) kind of have the direction they’re going. They’re not affected too much by people’s input. … They’re not going to change much, but it doesn’t need changing. It (the lake trout population) has really come back. The lake is doing a pretty good job of taking care of itself.”
The lake’s herring population, however, is at “critically low” levels now, Goldsworthy said. That population may be low because of predation by the largely recovered lake trout population, he said. Ford said predation of prey fish, including herring, by lake trout may be affecting other gamefish species as well.
“With the forage base (herring) being utilized,” Ford said, “even the fish they stock now - the ’loopers (Kamloops rainbow trout) - a lot of them end up in the tummies of lake trout. Even trying to bring the coaster brook trout back - I don’t know how much they can do with all those trout out there.”
Dan Tanner of Duluth also served on the advisory committee. He said DNR officials are under pressure from many constituent groups advocating for their interests in the Lake Superior fishery.
“(They’re) under pressure to do certain things,” Tanner said. “You have a lot of diverse groups. I think (the DNR) is doing a great job with the lake trout and the lamprey control. We did have input, but until I see the plan, I don’t know how much influence we had.”
Big raptor day at Hawk Ridge
Sept. 19 was a big day for the broad-winged hawk migration at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. A total of 16,815 broadwings passed over the ridge, many in large “kettles” in which the birds spiral higher and higher on hillside thermals, according to observers.
As of Wednesday, the season total for broadwings at Hawk Ridge was nearly 37,000, according to hawkcount.org. Broadwings typically move in large numbers during mid-September.
Also on Sept. 19, 459 sharp-shinned hawks were counted at Hawk Ridge, along with 276 bald eagles.
On Sept. 20, the count dropped off dramatically with winds brisk from the southwest. Just 28 broadwings passed over the ridge among a total of 560 raptors.
Through Wednesday, nearly 50,000 hawks had been counted at Hawk Ridge this season.
New walleye limits set in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board on Wednesday approved a rule establishing a daily bag limit of three walleyes with varying size limits on most waters of the ceded territory in northern Wisconsin.
The rule is designed to prevent a total harvest of more than 35 percent of the adult walleye population, which preserves a sustainable walleye fishery. Under the rule, which takes effect for next spring’s fishing season, walleyes in most waters in the ceded territory will have a minimum size limit of 15 inches, except walleyes between 20 and 24 inches may not be kept and only one walleye larger than 24 inches may be kept.
The department developed the rule to manage the walleye fishery after listening to stakeholders eager for more predictable and uniform angling regulations on lakes in the region.
Hautman brothers sweep federal Duck Stamp comp
A trio of brothers from Minnesota made history earlier this month as they took the top three spots in the 2015 Federal Duck Stamp art contest. The announcement was made Sept. 19 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Joseph Hautman of Plymouth, Minn., won the contest with his acrylic painting of a pair of trumpeter swans. This is Hautman’s fifth Federal Duck Stamp contest win, making him one of only two artists to have his art appear on five duck stamps.
Hautman’s painting will be made into the 2016-17 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2016. The stamp sells for $25 and raises about $25 million each year to provide critical money to conserve and protect wetland habitats.
Robert Hautman of Delano, Minn., placed second with his acrylic painting of a pair of mallards. Robert Hautman has won the Federal Duck Stamp contest twice.
James Hautman of Chaska, Minn., took third place with his acrylic painting of a pair of mallards. He is a four-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest.
Among them, the Hautmans have won 11 Federal Duck Stamp contests.
Lots of young shooters
A total of 2,586 Minnesota students are taking part in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League this fall, according to the league.
Of those, 2,419 are taking part in trapshooting, and 167 are involved in skeet shooting. Among Northland schools with teams are Denfeld, Proctor, Hermantown, International Falls, McGregor-Aitkin-Cromwell and Blackduck.

Related Topics: LAKE SUPERIORFISHINGHUNTING
Sam Cook is a freelance writer for the News Tribune. Reach him at cooksam48@gmail.com or find his Facebook page at facebook.com/sam.cook.5249.
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