Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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DNR monitors ’07 Mille Lacs harvest

By Mike
Kallok
Staff Writer

Aitkin, Minn. – A more relaxed slot limit scheduled to begin
mid-July on Lake Mille Lacs may not happen thanks to
higher-than-expected angling pressure and catch rates in early
June.

As of June 15, the total walleye kill at Mille Lacs was 326,000
pounds, according to Tom Jones, DNR large lake specialist in
Aitkin.

‘The kill was very high, higher than we expected,’ Jones said.
‘The DNR is going to have to look at what we have to do right
now.’

Under special regulations, the slot limit was set to expand on
July 15 to four walleyes under 22 inches with one over 28 inches in
possession. Under current regulations, anglers are allowed four
walleyes under 20 inches with one over 28 inches in possession.

However, if harvest reaches 365,000 pounds by June 30, the
regulation that provides for the relaxed slot limit could be
changed, according to Rick Bruesewitz, DNR area Fisheries
supervisor in Aitkin.

State anglers on Mille Lacs are allotted 449,000 pounds of
walleyes for the season, which began Dec. 1, 2006 and will end Nov.
30, 2007.

A second cut-off is scheduled for Aug. 15. At that time, if the
total harvest is below 449,000 pounds, no regulation changes are
planned.

As of press time Tuesday, the DNR couldn’t determine if Mille
Lacs regulation changes would occur.

‘If it appears likely that we will exceed 122 percent of our
allocation, it is likely we will do something to slow the harvest,’
Bruesewitz said.

The last time changes occurred mid-season on Mille Lacs was in
2001 when the slot limit was changed from a 16- to 20-inch
protected slot to a 16- to 18-inch protected slot.

Water temperatures approaching 70 degrees have contributed to
the 40,000 pounds of hooking mortality included in this season’s
harvest estimate.

The strong 2002 year-class’s position at the upper end of the
under-20-inch slot limit has contributed to heavier creels,
according to Jones.

Near-record angling pressure may be the largest factor in the
unexpectedly high harvest.

Anglers spent an estimated 400,000 hours on the lake and
harvested 188,000 pounds as of May 30, which was in line with
projections, but pressure increased sharply in June, according to
Bruesewitz.

And despite warming water temperatures, the hot bite on Mille
Lacs has continued.

Anglers added 138,000 pounds to the total harvest from June 1 to
June 15.

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