Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

2002 perch year-class puts food on the table

Anglers who sampled the super walleye fishing at Mille Lacs last
spring will find a noticeable difference in walleye appearance in
2003. The fish put on weight, in some cases a lot of weight!

Mille Lacs anglers and DNR biologists agree that the lake’s
walleyes look a lot fatter than they did last spring and summer.
During DNR’s 2001 fall gill net survey of the Mille Lacs fish
population, biologists took note of the “skinny” appearance of many

Walleyes examined last spring and early summer were often 30
percent below their normal weight-per-length ratio. (Mille Lacs
walleyes are traditionally pretty heavy for their lengths.)

Skinny walleyes and stressed walleyes frequently made the angler
grapevines and the news last season. But by last fall’s DNR gill
net and trawling surveys, the condition of walleyes under 24 inches
was back to the normal range.

Some of the bigger fish had not fully blimped out, but overall
were in better shape than they were last summer.

The reason walleyes will weigh more per length this season is an
apparent abundance of perch from the 2002 year-class, measuring
mainly between 3- and 4-plus inches long at the start of this

The below-average condition of walleyes last season was brought
on by an unusually low forage base, including young perch and other
preyfish species. That situation found walleyes looking less
healthy than their usual fat Mille Lacs selves. Given the preyfish
drought, walleyes often turned to alternative food sources,
especially mayflies. With walleyes ultra-hungry, anglers happily
discovered that their catchability willingness to bite skyrocketed.
The result was excellent fishing.

The improved condition of the walleyes means they’re less
“half-starved,” less in need of having to make up for lost meals
which relieves pressure on young perch and other forage currently
in the lake, according to Tom Jones, DNR’s Mille Lacs big lake

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