– That’s a line from bait-slinger Jonny Petrowske in this interesting Star Tribune write-up titled “Desperate bait dealers turn to DNR to address minnow shortage.”
Did you know that Minnesota and Maine are the only 2 states in the US of A where live minnows for fishing must be 100% homegrown? Meaning here in MN we can export bait to other states, but we can’t import any when we are short.
Sounds like it’s going to be extremely difficult to find live minnows in MN this season. And not just shiners…might not even be any fatheads to go around. Lot of insight from minnow trappers all around the state in the full write-up here, few excerpts below:
> Koep and others say the root of the minnow shortage is the continuing loss of harvestable water. Invasive species have put many waters off limits, while shorelines that were once undeveloped are now being purchased by people who introduce competing uses, including the stocking of fish that deplete minnows.
> Bait dealers also say that wetland restoration projects undertaken for the benefit of waterfowl hunters intentionally disrupts fathead populations. In addition, the DNR itself has unknowingly moved some of its walleye-rearing operations to ponds used by minnow trappers. Meanwhile, agricultural drainage practices usher more and more water into river systems, shrinking large ponds and drying up others.
> At the meeting in Brainerd, minnow trappers also complained about losing access to ponds and lakes inside state and federal wildlife lands that no longer allow motorized vehicles. And in the past few years, recurring droughts, floods and severe winters have disrupted minnow populations by causing winter kill or introducing undesired fish populations.
> Moreover, the bait dealers stressed to the DNR that minnows don’t reproduce in ponds as heartily as they did 15-20 yrs ago. They are slower to develop when stocked and slower to bounce back after winter kills, they said. The group wondered out loud if farm chemical runoff could be a factor, but no one had evidence.
Obviously this is a huge bummer for minnow trappers and local baitshops – some small businesses might not survive this season. 😣
Sounds like the DNR is looking for solutions and making changes…in the meantime you might be forced into fishing more artificials for walleyes this season. I guess the good news is there’s never been a better time to sling around the “fake” stuff for walleyes with all of the new information and gear available today….