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DNR: Encouraging signs in latest Mille Lacs walleye survey

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Measuring walleye
Aitkin-area fisheries supervisor Rick Bruesewitz measures a walleye as part of the Department of Natural Resources population study on Mille Lacs on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 near Garrison, Minn.
Conrad Wilson / MPR News 2013

A fall survey on Mille Lacs Lake shows good news for walleyes, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Monday.

Researchers found the highest number of yearling walleyes on the lake since 2008. It also found higher numbers of yearling tullibees, which could help feed predators that threaten the young walleyes, the DNR said.

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The improved yearling numbers are "the one thing we really wanted to see," said Rick Bruesewitz, the DNR's Aitkin area fisheries supervisor. "We've had some issues with survival of juveniles over their first year of life, especially. It appeared they survived better than they have for about the past four years."

Walleye numbers on the lake remain the lowest seen in decades and DNR officials say it will take time for the population to recover. 

The agency is still working to understand the effect of climate change, predators and other issues affecting the fish," Bruesewitz added. "It'll be awhile before the population is back to the way it once was."