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Protesters Upset Over Walleye Ban Greet Dayton On Lake Mille Lacs

GARRISON, Minn. (WCCO) -- Gov. Mark Dayton was greeted by protesters Saturday morning as he went bass fishing on Mille Lacs Lake.

The response was from critics of how the state manages the lake's walleye population. They organized a boat rally offshore from the Fisher's Resort.

Dayton was supposed to be up at Lake Mille Lacs this morning to fish for bass. But he says that was made near impossible because of protesters.

Mark Dayton
(credit: CBS)

"We couldn't get a fish because we had these boats circling around us. One person caught a northerner but they ruined the fishing," Dayton said.

This was an organized protest after the governor announced a ban on fishing walleye in the lake that began late Thursday night. That was part of a years long effort to save the lake's walleye population.

Twin Pines Resort owner Linda Eno helped organize the protest. She said the ban is bad for business.

"We just were trying to send a message about how upset we are with the management of Mille Lacs Lake for the last 18 years," she said.

"That ban is going to cost me $40,000 in three weeks."

The governor docked at Fisher's Resort on the east side of the lake and said he simply wanted to come up here to showcase a positive fishing experience people can have without fishing walleye.

"I'm here to talk about what's great about Mille Lacs, fishing in Mille Lacs. Number one rated bass fishing lake in the entire country and musky fishing, huge muskees being caught here. And it's been a very tough time for people, I recognize that, it's been a very, very hard time," Dayton said.

Dayton said his goal is to improve the walleye population along with the DNR. But he recognized times have been tough for local businesses.

"They're doing their best and if they got it wrong we have an outside group not related to the DNR coming in and they're going to be, in the next six months, making their analysis and if there are things we need to do differently, then we'll do it differently," he said.

The ban on walleye will last three weeks.

The owner of the Twin Pines Resort in Garrison said that the governor told her he does plan to meet with her and some of the other protesters from Saturday morning in the coming weeks.

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