After several seasons of catch-and-release fishing, anglers on Lake Mille Lacs in central Minnesota will have an opportunity to keep some walleyes during this year's open-water fishing season, the Department of Natural Resources said this week.
Last year, state anglers stayed well under the lake's safe-harvest allocation for walleyes. With an improving walleye population, the DNR will allow some walleye harvest when the season opens Saturday, May 11.
The DNR will announce the Mille Lacs walleye regulations for the upcoming season in mid-March.
"We're happy to announce that, with some very conservative fishing regulations over the past three years, walleye are now at a level where we can cautiously allow anglers to start keeping some fish during the open-water season," DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement.
The state and the Ojibwe tribes with harvest rights in Mille Lacs recently agreed on a safe harvest level of 150,000 pounds of walleyes, which provides a state allocation of 87,800 pounds. Under the catch-and-release only regulation last year, the kill from walleye anglers who released fish was just over 47,000 pounds.
The walleye safe harvest level for Lake Mille Lacs is determined annually. It is based on population status and predictions of how harvest will affect walleye population in the future. State anglers share the safe harvest level with eight bands of Chippewa that have fishing rights under an 1837 treaty. By agreement, the bands and the state are required to monitor harvest according to their respective allocations.
More info: mndnr.gov/millelacslake.
-- Minnesota DNR