Officials investigate gillnet abandoned on Mille Lacs

Published 7:55 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2018

ONAMIA — Tribal authorities are investigating an abandoned gillnet found on Mille Lacs Lake that contained 67 dead walleyes.

Last week’s find has revived the controversy over tribal fishing on Mille Lacs, where the walleye population has been on a long-term decline.

Mille Lacs is co-managed between the state and eight Ojibwe bands that have court-affirmed treaty rights to net and spear a portion of the lake’s walleye.

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Charlie Rasmussen, spokesman for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, said Fond du Lac band conservation officials have begun an investigation. He said the 112 pounds of walleyes in the net will count against the band’s quota.

Only members of the eight bands may keep walleyes from the lake this year. For state-licensed walleye anglers, it’s the third consecutive summer of catch-and-release-only.