Businesses Sound Off About Walleye Woes On Lake Mille Lacs
Some Businesses Have Been Struggling With the Tough Regulations on Walleye Fishing
MILLE LACS, Minn.- Lake Mille Lacs was a popular Walleye fishing destination, but after a plummet in the population of the fish, strict regulations have restricted fishing in the area.
“The people in the upper midwest, you know take Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota and Northern Iowa, walleye is their favorite fish and that’s not going to change,” says Terry Thurmer, the owner of Terry’s Boat Harbor.
This fishing season, walleye anglers were only allowed to catch and release Walleye, but even that was put on hold for a few weeks in July.
Now the catch and release season is back open, but local business owners believe while the season being open is helpful, it’s too little too late to recover from this year’s loss in tourism and revenue.
“Opening it back up, I mean, yeah it helps a little bit, but it’s pretty much a lost year for most of the businesses,” says Thurmer.
Thurmer says many of the businesses in the area depend on wall eye fishing, and that business has dropped between 50 to 80 percent since when anglers were allowed to take home walleye they caught.
“Mille Lacs has lost over 50 businesses. So you’re talking 20 to 30 million dollars to the local economy is gone,” says Thurmer.
But some business owners have found an alterntative way to draw anglers to the area.
“The small mouth bass fishing has been phenomenal this year,” says Terry McQuoid, the owner of McQuoid’s Inn.
Mille Lacs was recognized as the best Small Mouth Bass Fishing Lake in the Nation by Bassmaster magazine, and businesses like McQuoid’s Inn are working to get the word out to bass fishermen and women across the Nation.
“We got people coming from all over the nation and when you got our average fish is in that four, five, six pound class,” explains McQuoid. “You can’t go anywhere in the world to catch that kind of fish.”
And though Thurmer believes with proper management, the walleye population could make a come back and help save businesses, McQuoid says adapting and changing is how local businesses will stay afloat.
“The vast majority of fishermen in this area they want walleyes and perch,” says Thurmer.
“Of course we miss the walleye fishing a little bit but you can’t live and die with that, you have to expand and diversify,” says McQuoid.