Anglers can keep one walleye for part of the upcoming Mille Lacs fishing season

The walleye population is of great concern to the surrounding communities.
Anglers will be allowed to keep only one walleye during parts of the upcoming fishing season on Mille Lacs Lake.
Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

Anglers will again have a limited opportunity to keep one walleye they catch — within certain size limits — on Mille Lacs Lake during the upcoming fishing season.

The new regulations released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are similar to the limitations imposed last year on the popular fishing lake about an hour and a half north of the Twin Cities.

Anglers will be able to keep one walleye between May 14 and 30.

The season will then switch to “catch and release” in June. For the first two weeks of July, no walleye fishing will be allowed at all, to protect fish from “hooking mortality,” where fish die after they’re caught and thrown back into the water.

After a month and a half of additional catch-and-release fishing, the one fish limit is then expected to return in September — provided anglers haven’t hit the annual quota agreed to by the Minnesota DNR and the eight Ojibwe bands that have treaty fishing rights on the lake.

The Minnesota DNR has strictly regulated walleye fishing on Mille Lacs for the past several years to try to boost the fish's population. For several years anglers weren’t allowed to keep any walleye at all.

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“Our goal for Mille Lacs fishing regulations now and in the future is to offer fishing opportunities while also maintaining the long-term sustainability of the lake’s fish populations,” said DNR fisheries section manager Brad Parsons.

Walleye have been severely impacted by several changes in the lake over the past 30 years, including warmer and clearer water, and the introduction of invasive species like zebra mussels.

Poor ice conditions on Mille Lacs this winter contributed to a lower than expected walleye harvest during the ice fishing season. The DNR says that gives the agency added flexibility this summer and fall.

DNR officials say Mille Lacs sports a healthy population of northern pike for anglers looking to take home a meal.