Walleye anglers at Lac Mille Lacs will see a relaxed harvest window for walleye fishing beginning Thursday, September 1.
As announced in March of this year, the limit for one walleye will resume on Mille Lacs on September 1. As part of an expansion of the fishing niche, anglers will be able to harvest walleye from 20 to 23 inches or one over 26 inches. , with fishing allowed from 6 a.m. to midnight. The initial walleye harvest window for the Mille Lacs fall fishery this year was a 21 to 23 inch fish or a fish over 28 inches.
“Given the current size structure of the Mille Lacs walleye population, this regulatory change will significantly increase the amount of walleye available to anglers,” said Brad Parsons, Section Director of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries. “Catch rates may not improve this season, but there will be a better chance of keeping a fish.”
The recent decline in the walleye catch rate in Lac des Mille Lacs reflects less the number of walleye in the lake than the hunger of these fish. The number of walleye over 14 inches has been similar each year from 2020 to 2022. But an abundance of yellow perch from a strong 2020 year-class created more natural food for walleye, which therefore n is not as willing to bite on anglers’ bait. .
Each year, the state and the eight Ojibwa bands that have treaty fishing rights on Lac Mille Lacs establish a safe harvest level for walleye in Lac Mille Lacs. This total is divided between the state and the bands.
The DNR sets regulations to keep the harvest within the state share based on projections using recent data. If actual conditions differ significantly from projections, the number of walleye caught may be lower or higher than forecast.
“We’re seeing that this year,” Parsons said. “With actual angler catch rates and harvest significantly lower than expected, we are adjusting the regulations to provide more opportunities without significant risk to the long-term sustainability of the Mille Lacs walleye population.”
Regulations for all other species remain unchanged. Walleye regulations for the winter season, which begins Thursday, December 1, will be announced in November.
Information explaining MNR fisheries management and research, citizen engagement, and recreation opportunities in the Mille Lacs area is available on the MNR website (mndnr.gov/MilleLacsLake).