MAZINA’IGAN PAGE 6 FALL 2017 Aquaticinvasivespecies(AIS)canhavenegativeimpactstotreatyresources including spawning and fish habitats. Remember when out on the waters to take the precautions to prevent their spread. Watch for invasives hitching rides on plant fragments, mud or debris! Stop Aquatic Invasives ü REMOVEanymudordebris,plantsandanimalsfromyourboat,trailer and equipment ü DRAINallwaterfromboat,fishingboxesandequipmentensuringitdoes not drain back into the waterbody. ü CLEAN or DRY boat, trailer and all equipment that came into contact with water including nets, buoys, anchors, ropes and lines, etc.* * Note: 1837 Treaty Conservation Code for Minnesota Ceded Territory has additional requirements for “infested waters” (including Mille Lacs). Ganawendan Ginibiiminaan (Protect Our Waters) Don’t forget to check these spots for hitchhikers. • INLAND FISHERIES • Massive midge hatch greets researchers Biologists survey young walleye abundance By Ben Michaels, GLIFWC Fisheries Biologist Last June, GLIFWC and Fond du Lac electrofishing crews shocked most of Mille Lacs Lake’s 78-mile shoreline in an effort to measure the relative abundance of age-1 walleye. This survey is no slight task. Electrofishing crews worked long hours into the night often times battling adverse weather conditions such as rain and wind, but this year crews were bugged by something a little smaller—insects. This year’s midge hatch on Mille Lacs Lake was the largest that electrofishing crews have ever experienced on the lake. Lights on the front of the boats attracted huge numbers of these insects as they swarmed and landed on every surface, including the crew members. In some instances the midges formed a layer so thick on the boat decks that they had to be shoveled out of the boat and into the water. Moreover, dense swarms of midges hampered visibility, making it difficult for dip netters at the front of the boat to see clearly into the water. An abundance of these insects may be an indicator of suboptimal water quality, warranting fur- ther investigation to assess whether that is the case. Despite the onslaught of the midge, GLIFWC and Fond du Lac personnel were able to complete their work without any major hitches. Biologists are compiling results of the spring electrofishing survey, which has been conducted from 2000–2007 and 2013–2017, to help give researchers a glimpse into the future of the Mille Lacs adult walleye population. Specifically, the survey provides information on how well age-0 walleye are surviving over the winter months. There hasn’t been any clear trend in the abundance of age-1 walleye over time (Figure 1). Recently the 2013 year class was detected in a relatively large quantity during the 2014 survey. Since then 2014, 2015, and 2016 year classes have been below average in the survey, indicating that those year classes will likely contribute less to the walleye spawning stock abundance as they mature throughout the next few years. It’s no secret that the adult walleye population in the lake is at historically low levels, but what remains unclear is the cause of their population decline. Biologists speculate that invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny waterflea, and zebra mussels may be adversely affecting the lower food web (see Mazina’igan Summer 2017). For example, cladocerans, which are a food source for young small-sized fish, havebeendecreasinginabundancesincethezebramusselandspinywaterfleawere first detected in Mille Lacs Lake. Ecosystem changes such as this could explain below-average recruitment and why young walleye disappear before making it to their first spawning season. GLIFWC and Band biologists intend to continue this survey in future years to gain more insight into Mille Lacs Lake walleye population dynamics. Contact Ben Michaels at smichaels@glifwc.org with questions or comments. Figure 1. Relative abundance (catch per mile of shoreline) of age-1 walleye during spring juvenile electrofishing survey on Mille Lacs Lake. Average catch per mile of age-1 walleye for 2000—2017 is represented by the dashed line. This survey was not conducted during 2008—2013. management techniques, such as soil scarification, can improve regeneration and create the best possible growth environment for wiigwaasi-mitig. These practices should be increasingly used in any strategies to protect wiigwaasi-mitig in the Ceded Territories. We encourage GLIFWC member tribes and others to continue to educate each other on the importance of wiigwaasi-mitigoog and consider action to pro- tect it. For example, some Tribes (including Lac Courte Oreilles, Bad River, and Red Cliff) have banned or limited the on-reservation commercial harvest of birch poles. This action can allow the wiigwaasi-mitig to rest and regenerate.As climate change becomes more of a threat, similar measures can be taken to ensure the continuation of the gift, wiigwaasi-mitig. Authors’note:SpecialrecognitionandappreciationgoestothelateNiso-asin (Sean Fahrlander) as well as his family, friends, and other loved ones. Niso-asin, known for his many talents and passions, including sharing the best traditional Ojibwe legends, passed away at age 49 on March 16. A few staff members at GLIFWC were extremely fortunate to spend time with him including when he shared knowledge and traditional legends such as that of the wiigwaasi-mitig. (continued from page 5) Wiigwaasi-mitig Inland Fisheries Biologist Mark Luehring shows off a handful of midges. (B. Michaels photo)