Lake Mille Lacs walleye fishing will be closed starting later this week and for most of the remainder of July, according to the Minnesota DNR.
With the ban on night fishing already in place for the season, walleye fishing on the lake effectively closes at 10:01 p.m. Thursday, July 6, and reopens at 6:01 a.m. Friday, July 28.
According to a news release from the DNR, walleye fishing closure is to prevent fish from dying after being caught and released – fishing for walleyes has been allowed on the central Minnesota lake, but on a catch-and-release basis.
“Conserving the Mille Lacs walleye fishery is a top priority for DNR and the closure is happening when fish are most vulnerable to stress from warm water and high fishing pressure,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.
The tendency for caught fish to die after being released is called hooking mortality, which increases as water temperatures warm, according to the release.
The decision to close walleye fishing in July was first announced in March. The closure is expected to help extend the fishing season through Labor Day, the DNR said.
During the period walleye fishing is closed, anglers may fish for all other species in the lake including bass, muskellunge and northern pike. When fishing for other species, only artificial baits and lures are allowed in possession, except anglers targeting northern pike or muskie may fish with sucker minnows longer than 8 inches.
A ban on night fishing remains in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Nov. 30; however, anglers may fish for muskie and northern pike at night but may only use artificial lures longer than 8 inches or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. Bowfishing for rough fish also is allowed at night but possession of angling equipment is not allowed and only rough fish may be in possession.
Following the July walleye closure, anglers may catch and release walleye through Labor Day. Walleye fishing will then be closed from Tuesday, Sept. 5, through Thursday, Nov. 30.
More information about Mille Lacs, including progress toward the level of walleye that can be safely harvested in 2017, ongoing DNR management and research, and area opportunities is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.