Winnibigoshish also dealing with walleye woes; bill looks to nix muskie plan

Big Winnie, too?

Amid news that anglers and resort owners on Lake Mille Lacs will be facing a third consecutive catch-and-release-only season for walleye, another top Minnesota walleye fishery reportedly is facing struggles of its own.

The Minnesota DNR said it’s investigating whether a downturn on Lake Winnibigoshish is a normal part of walleye biology on Big Winnie, or if something has changed.

On Mille Lacs, the walleye population has undergone a long-term decline over the past two decades that has coincided with significant changes in the lake’s ecosystem, including clearer water, more invasive species such as zebra mussels, and changes in the food web including declines in forage species such as tullibees, the DNR said. Another major problem has been the failure of enough walleyes to survive until their second year, the agency added in announcing earlier this week that the lake would be catch-and-release only for walleyes again this open-water season.

The DNR allowed ice anglers on Mille Lacs to keep one walleye apiece this winter as long as it was between 20 and 22 inches or longer than 28 inches.

Also, concerns about walleye and panfish numbers are behind a bill introduced last week by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and Rep. Bud Nornes, a Fergus Falls Republican, to scuttle the DNR’s long-range plans for growing the state’s muskellunge population. Ingebrigtsen said he expected the bill would get a hearing this session.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Categories: News, Walleye