After Labor Day, the Mille Lacs walleye shutdown will begin on September 6.
One of Minnesota’s best and most popular lakes will be closed for the state fish. The Mille Lacs walleye shutdown starts the day after Labor Day and last until the end of November. The reason is exceeded quotas for hooking mortality rates. This rate estimates the amount of mortality for fish after being caught and released. Eight Chippewa bands and the Minnesota DNR set this year’s quota at 28,600 for licensed anglers. However, the estimate is currently at 45,276 pounds.
A Minnesota DNR news release details the reasoning and details for the shutdown. The Chippewa bands hold fishery rights to the lake and work with the DNR to set the quotas. The total quota amount is 40,000, with 11,400 for tribal fishing and the rest to licensed Minnesota anglers.
The band leaders and DNR both have concern about overfishing and the potential impact for the future walleye population. This year’s high estimated hooking mortality rates are due to warm weather conditions and higher than expected catch rates.
Another factor is the economy of the surrounding area that depends on the fishery. Many local businesses rely on walleye anglers. This is part of why they decided to allow walleye fishing to continue until after the Labor Day weekend even though the limit has been exceeded
State officials urge people to continue to visit the lake and fish for other species. The lake recently produced a fly-fishing world-record muskie. Mille Lacs is also one of the premier fisheries in the region for Northern Pike. Another big draw to the lake is the excellent smallmouth bass fishing.
The Bassmaster Elite Series will be holding their Angler of the Year Championship in mid-September. The lake was also in the news last year as a increasing creel limits began to affect the large smallmouth population.