When you catch a walleye on Mille Lacs Lake this summer, you'll have to release it.
The Minnesota DNR announced the summer walleye season regulations Tuesday, saying having another catch-and-release only season will help rebuild the struggling walleye population on the popular lake.
The summer walleye fishing season begins Saturday, May 13, and is scheduled to run through Monday, Sept. 4, on Mille Lacs. But for 21 days – from July 7-27 – the lake will be closed to walleye fishing.
“The plan is for this closure to coincide with the hottest part of the summer when released fish are vulnerable to stress,” Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief, said in a statement. “Warm water combined with July’s higher fishing pressure means that more fish die – even those that are caught and returned to the water.”
The DNR says anglers caught more walleye than expected during the ice fishing season, totaling about one-third of the total amount of walleye anglers can harvest from Mille Lacs this year.
The hope is this mid-summer closure will help keep the walleye season open on Mille Lacs through Labor Day, which should help local businesses that depend on summer walleye anglers.
During that time, anglers will be allowed to fish for all other species of fish on the lake, but only with artificial bait and lures. That's unless anglers are hoping to catch northern pike and muskellunge – if they don't have any walleye gear, they can use live sucker minnows longer than 8 inches to fish.