August 14, 2017 11:03 PM
Gov. Mark Dayton met with Mille Lacs area business owners Monday to talk about the controversial walleye restrictions those owners say have put a serious dent in their bottom lines over the past two years.
In July, Dayton was on the lake to promote bass fishing when dozens of boats surrounded him in protest over walleye restrictions.
The rally forced the governor from the lake, and delayed a scheduled meeting with local business owners.
"It's been a very painful experience for these good people," Dayton said.
But on Monday he returned for that meeting.
"We're thankful that the governor actually came up and met with us, and hope he heard what our message was," said Linda Eno, who owns Twin Pines Resort Motel and Restaurant.
Eno is one of many business owners around the lake who would like the Department of Natural Resources to reassess its process for gathering walleye numbers.
"Numbers are guesstimates," Eno said. "The methods they use to determine the numbers were never developed to be an exact science, and they pretend that they are an exact science."
She says the fishing restrictions have cost her business roughly $50,000.
"You've got people who plan their vacations in January, and then they come up to the middle of three weeks in July when you can't keep fish, that's real life for people," she said. "And it was very sad during this five weeks of shut down."
Mille Lacs business owners say the open dialogue with the Dayton's office is a good thing, but they're concerned about the continuation of the complex restrictions.
"The lake will help itself, and we just keep trying to help," said Bill Lundeen of Lundeen's Tackle Castle. "And we need to get out of the way."
Asked if it was a productive meeting, Dayton said he'd be looking to see what an independent review panel comes up with this fall.
"We'll see what the numbers show and hopefully they'll show a significant improvement," he said.
Added Eno: "And hopefully we will be looking at different methods to look at those numbers."
Catch and release with live bait just opened back up on Mille Lacs Friday morning. It will remain open until September 4, when it will close again.
Updated: August 14, 2017 11:03 PM
Created: August 14, 2017 04:54 PM
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