walleye season
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Mille Lacs Walleye Season Ends, DNR Set to Assess After Rocky Season

Walleye season on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota has finally come to a close.

The walleye season officially closed at the beginning of September and has been marked by controversy.

All year, anglers have only been able to engage in catch-and-release fishing while going for walleye.

Then, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources completely closed walleye fishing for a month this summer.

Officials say the closure was to prevent fish from dying after being caught and released, especially with the warmer summer water temperatures.

"We did see an uptick in angling pressure after the walleye season reopened," says Brad Parsons, DNR central region fisheries manager. "We certainly expected that. Fishing on Mille Lacs is so much driven by the weather. Wind and rain can really change the pressure estimates, but there were more people out there."

The DNR will assess the health of the walleye population this fall. That assessment will be used to set harvest levels for 2018.

Anglers have expressed dissatisfaction with how the DNR handled the walleye season this year, accusing it of hiding details regarding a walleye agreement made this spring with eight Chippewa bands that co-manage the lake.

Aside from the walleye season closing, a ban on the use of live bait went into effect. However, anglers fishing from shore or a dock can still use live bait.

Also, musky and pike anglers can use sucker minnows 8 inches or longer.