A Big Step in the Right Direction for Mille Lacs Smallmouth Alliance

Isle, Minn. —New non-profits validate their mission—the very reason they established the organization—by the success of the initial fundraising. If the message finds a sweet spot, support follows. With the first fundraiser completed for the Mille Lacs Smallmouth Alliance, the community and stakeholders stepped up in a big way and embraced the mission of the MLSA. “We exceeded our goal by several thousand dollars,” Jim DaRosa, MLSA President said. “What a great first effort.”

Not only has the organization grown to include more than 100 members since its founding earlier this year, but on a recent Saturday evening, the MLSA hosted its first Bronzeback Blowout event and raised just over $13,000 net. “This means we’ll be able to follow through with the educational goals we have,” said George Liddle, Jr., Vice President of the MLSA. “We’ll share what a healthy, smallmouth fishery means in terms of economic impact to area businesses and homeowners. It’s totally a new way of thinking here.” Often listed in the top 10 of bass fisheries in the nation, Mille Lacs enjoys a prolific smallmouth bass population with trophy sizes.

Kevin Mullarky, general manager of Izaty’s Resort, arrived at the event a non-member, but is now a member at the highest level (Bronzeback). “The bass in Mille Lacs are an amazing resource and it shouldn’t be squandered. It should be nurtured for future generations,” Mullarky said, recognizing the walleye fishery on Mille Lacs traditionally garners most attention. “Mille Lacs is also a great recreational lake and a phenomenal bass lake. I encourage other community businesses to support this organization.”

One of the educational components of the MLSA is to educate community stakeholders about how long it takes for the smallmouth bass to grow on Mille Lacs. Research indicates a 17″ smallmouth can be seven- to eight-years old, is in its prime of life, and is the foundation of this trophy population. “We need to keep sharing the message that it’s good to exercise catch and release for the bass,” Terry McQuoid said. McQuoid’s Inn and Event Center hosted the first fundraiser.

Another goal is to bust the myth that the smallmouth bass are predating on the walleyes and causing the issues the DNR is attempting to manage on the lake. “They’re not, and the research from the Minnesota DNR proves it,” DaRosa continued. “We plan to share that message.”

Support for the MLSA exists through many area businesses, including another new Bronzeback member during the recent event: Dean Hansen of Agate Bay Resort. “The funds raised will be used to increase the public’s perception of this Mille Lacs treasure and to educate about their worth as a fishing target and a source of additional tourism. I urge everyone who loves the Mille Lacs area and its fishery to look into this organization.”

Business owners are learning that a trophy, world-class fishery can make cash registers ring through healthy tourism dollars. A good example is the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year tournament, scheduled this September, estimated to bring $3.4 million dollars in economic impact.

The success of the first fundraiser for MLSA reaffirms how important it is to preserve and maintain this world-class trophy smallmouth bass resource in Mille Lacs, and how much the stakeholders in the local community want to spread the word.

The MLSA website is www.milleleacssmallmouthalliance.com for more information.