Mille Lacs walleye fishing to close Sept. 6
After holding out hope that walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs might stay open for the long haul this open-water season, the Minnesota DNR announced Monday, Aug. 26 that the season will close Friday, Sept. 6, so state anglers do not exceed a safe walleye harvest level.
“We’re glad anglers had the opportunity to harvest walleye in May and fish for walleye through much of the open-water season,” Brad Parsons, fisheries chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said in a DNR news release Monday. “Because angling pressure and walleye catch rates were high, the coming closure is necessary to stay within established limits.”
High angling pressure and catch rates in July and August when water temperatures were at their warmest increased hooking mortality, resulting in a larger-than-expected walleye kill, according to the release. Hooking mortality, which is more likely as water temperatures warm, occurs when a fish is caught and returned to the water but dies anyway.
The state of Minnesota and Ojibwe tribal authorities with fishing rights on Mille Lacs agreed on a 2019 safe harvest level of 87,800 pounds for state anglers and 62,200 pounds for tribal fishing.
“Mille Lacs walleye regulations allowed some harvest this year but it’s still important to proceed with caution to ensure continued recovery of the lake’s walleye,” Parsons said. “The restrictive regulations we enacted in previous years protected young walleye, allowing the population to increase to a number not observed since before 2007. Continuing to manage the Mille Lacs walleye fishery for recovery will allow us to provide good angling opportunities in the future.”
Starting Sept. 6 at 12:01 a.m., anglers will not be able to target walleye when fishing on Mille Lacs. Anglers may fish for other species and use live bait.
Walleye regulations for the winter of 2019-2020 on Mille Lacs will be announced in November after data from fall walleye assessments are available. Winter regulations become effective on Sunday, Dec. 1.
Find more information on Mille Lacs at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.