PAGE 1 MAZINA’IGAN SUMMER 2017 Chronicles of Mille Lacs: Not long ago in a large 1837 Ceded Territory lake, abun- dantwalleyeroamedfreely.Thesewalleyeprovidedexcellent harvest opportunities for tribes and state-licensed anglers and repopulatedthroughabundantnaturallyproducedyear-classes (i.e., lots of baby walleye) approximately every 4 years. But something happened around 2010, and abundant walleye year-classes started to die at higher rates, resulting in abundant year-classes surviving to adulthood less often (approximately every seven years). Very quickly, the adult walleye population declined (see “A closer look at Mille Lacs management” on page 7 for more info). Tribal and state biologists reduced harvest levels to preserve what was left, but death rates of young unharvest- able walleye remained high.Around the same time, two food chain rearranging invasive species, the zebra mussel and the spiny waterflea crashed into the lake ecosystem. Were these the culprits in the walleye decline? The zebra mussel is a filter-feeding animal about the size of a quarter with alternating stripes on its shell. This little strainer is native to eastern Europe and western Russia. It was first found in the Midwest in the Great Lakes in 1988 after hitchhiking in the ballast water of large vessels. SinceitsdiscoveryintheGreatLakes,ithascaughtaride with unsuspecting boaters to several inland waters, including the 132,500 acre Mille Lacs Lake, where it was first discov- ered in 2005. Zebra mussels are extremely prolific, females can produce up to 500,000 eggs, and eventually, the young will attach to any hard surface available. Zebra mussel densities on the Mille Lacs Lake floor skyrocketed from 0.00016 per square foot in 2005 to a high of 1,269 per square foot in 2012 (Figure 1). Zebra mussels consume the tiny microscopic plant-like organisms called phytoplanktonthatformthebaseoftheMilleLacsfoodchain. Whatthismightmeanislesszooplankton(microscopicanimal- like organisms which feed on phytoplankton) for baby fish. The zooplankton community in Mille Lacs was dealt anotherblowin2009whenspinywaterfleaswerediscovered. Also initially brought over from Europe and Asia in ballast (See Freshwater, page 17) Spiny waterflea. (Gary Montz, 144, Bugwood.org) By GLIFWC Inland Fisheries Section Beroadwise thisniibin The walleye, the zebra mussel, & the waterflea (See Chronicles of Mille Lacs, page 22) Freshwater rivers & lakes provide for Ojibweg across Territory It’s around midnight in mid-April. Just past the roiling froth below Upper Michigan’s Escanaba River dam, Bay Mills members spear ogaa from a maze of rocks and broken concrete cobble. Between freight trains sounding off to the northwest and intermittent traffic overhead, clunking across the US High- way 2/41 bridge, it’s a unique setting, unlike the typical Northwoods walleye lake—silent save the calls of new loon arrivals. Here on the river, walleye harvest- ers swap out motor boats for rubber chest waders, stepping carefully across slippery rocks as the current pulls downrivertoLakeMichigan.Headlights powered by AA batteries replace the heavier miner-style helmets often used on inland Ceded Territory lakes. But the reflective eyes shine all the same, marking ogaawag in pools that include white suckers and other fish. “I’ve been coming here for about seven years now. It’s a really nice spot to get some fish,” says Lynn Carrick of Bay Mills Indian Community. Carrick fishedwithAdrianHatfield,aBayMills member living near Sault Ste. Marie. Uponthesteepriverbank,GLIFWC Officer Gale Smith monitors the treaty harvest. Other fishermen are also drawn By Charlie Otto Rasmussen Editor Keep your boats clean. Slow down for migrating turtles. Published by the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission SUMMER 2017 Lynn Carrick emerges from the Escanaba River in Upper Michigan with a pair of walleyes last April. (CO Rasmussen photo)