Mille Lacs, a lake made famous by walleye, is restricting the numbers fishermen can keep.
Starting on the Mille Lacs season opener May 9, anglers fishing for walleye will now only be able to keep one fish that falls in the 19 - 21 inches, or above 28 inches, slot limit. Night fishing for walleye will also be banned during the entire 2015 fishing season. The reason for the cutbacks on walleye limits is due to the goal of keeping the walleye fishery within the lakes established state harvest levels.
"The new regulations reflect our commitment to improve the walleye fishery as quickly as possible and stay within the state's 1837 Treaty safe harvest allocation yet continue to provide walleye angling opportunities," said Don Pereira, fisheries chief for the DNR. "This set of regulations is designed to minimize the likelihood that a catch-and-release only walleye fishing regulation would be needed later in the season to stay within the state's safe harvest allocation."
This reduction in the walleye limit is half of what anglers could keep last year. Before, Mille Lacs walleye fishermen could keep two walleye 18 to 20 inches long or one longer than 28 inches.
Other than walleye, pike fisherman will be fishing with an "earn-a-trophy" concept of being able to keep one large northern pike. In order for this happen, a pike fisherman has to legally possess two pike smaller than 30 inches before they can keep one pike larger than 30 inches out of their limit of 10 total pike.
"There was too much pressure on large northern pike last year when anglers and spearers could harvest one fish longer than 30 inches without restriction," said Pereira. "So this year we're experimenting with an earn-a-trophy concept that requires anglers to harvest more abundant smaller fish before they can take home a big fish."
The night fishing ban that will be in effect on Mille Lacs will have two exceptions. The first exception is night fishing for muskies. Anglers will be able to chase this fish after dark only so long as they are using artificial lures over 8 inches or live suckers over 8 inches.
The other exception to the night fishing ban is for bowfishing.
"Night muskie fishing and bowfishing for rough fish are popular on Mille Lacs," said Pereira. "Last year, all boats had to be off the water at night. This year, we've listened to stakeholders and adjusted the regulations to accommodate night fishing methods that are expected to have no impact on the walleye we're trying to protect."
As seen in the official press release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the new rules are broken down as follows:
- Walleye - Limit of one and the fish must be 19 to 21 inches long or longer than 28 inches. Night closure from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. May 11 to Dec. 1.
- Northern pike - Limit of 10. One fish may be longer than 30 inches only if two fish shorter than 30 inches are caught on the same trip and in possession.
- Bass - Limit of six smallmouth and largemouth bass in combination. Only one smallmouth bass may be longer than 18 inches.
For more information, check out the Minnesota DNR main page.