So you enjoy the Great Gull Lake Muskie Debate and mourn the probability that it ends this month, when the DNR announces if it's "yea" or "nay" for muskie stocking in the lake.
Cheer up, folks, for it looks as if we can debate awhile longer, and that I'll have more time to rig a used oil filter with treble hooks.
In conversations with two DNR staffers I learned that ... well, I really didn't learn anything other than that a decision is indefinitely on hold.
I spoke with Ron Payer, fisheries chief, and Tim Brastrup, Brainerd area fisheries manager. Payer I cornered Jan. 6 at the DNR Roundtable in St. Cloud. Brastrup I talked to on the phone earlier this week.
"We haven't decided one way or the other," Payer said as we stood outside the main conference room, where inside yet another politician promised he would support dedicated funding at this year's Legislature. "With the change in commissioners we thought we should give Mark (Holsten) a chance to settle in and have some input. We also have to determine how much stock will be available."
Brastrup said much the same thing.
"I'm guessing that when (former Commissioner Gene) Merriam decided to retire, that out of respect for Holsten we'd leave that to him. They might be talking about it in St. Paul, but I haven't heard anything."
To refresh your memory, the proposed plan calls for 2,500 muskies to be stocked this year. Fisheries managers make their stocking requests in February, but Brastrup said stocking plans can be amended later in the year, leaving open the possibility that Gull still could get muskies in 2007.
Walleye stocking is determined by a lake's size and how many people fish it. Bigger lakes that are fished a lot get more stock.
Muskie stocking is different. When a lake is deemed eligible for stocking it goes to the bottom of the list. Established lakes come first. So Gull would be at the bottom of the list if and when it's approved for stocking.
Former Commissioner Merriam wasn't known for his sense of humor. New Commissioner Holsten just might be. After calling attention to his expanding waistline and doctor's orders that he must lose weight, Holsten said, "I have a wonderful wife with a great intellect and two great kids who keep us grounded. Hopefully they'll develop their mother's intellect and not their father's physical attributes."
Of the DNR's deer hunting regulations, Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator, said, "I may be the only person in the entire state who understands them."
This acknowledgment that regulations need to be simplified is a good first step. Now how about a deer tag that can be quickly attached on site and that remains legible after dragging a deer through the woods? All in favor of bringing back the old metal bands, raise your hands.
A telling moment: After three speeches about the need for dedicated funding for the DNR, including a passionate speech by duck rally coordinator Dave Zentner, the moderator asked if there were any questions. Not one person in the crowd of 200 spoke up. Nope, we've heard it all before. Wake us up when the politicians are ready to deliver.
The DNR's Division of Ecological Services will be re-named the Division of Ecological Resources, effective July 1. With invasive species consuming more of the division's time, a new position of Invasive Species Manager has been announced. The job search will be conducted nationally.
VINCE MEYER, outdoors editor, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5862.
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