Anglers will be allowed to keep one walleye they catch in Mille Lacs Lake this winter.
The regulations for the popular central Minnesota lake are the same as they've been the past two seasons, with anglers allowed to keep one walleye between 21-23 inches or one fish longer than 28 inches, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Monday.
“It’s good news that anglers will be able to harvest walleye again this winter,” said Sarah Strommen, commissioner of the DNR. “Conservative management continues to sustain good fishing on Mille Lacs.”
This marks the fifth season in a row where anglers on Mille Lacs can keep a walleye, following several years of catch-and-release or no fishing was allowed in order to restore the walleye population.
“We want to provide anglers the opportunity to catch and keep some fish when the walleye population can support it,” said Brad Parsons, DNR fisheries section manager. “As in recent winters, we’re confident that the walleye population is abundant enough to support some harvest.”
Last winter, Mille Lacs was a top destination for anglers in part due to poor ice conditions on other large lakes in the state. This resulted in anglers spending more than 3 million hours fishing on Mille Lacs last winter, about 1 million more hours compared to the previous three winters.
The DNR sets its winter walleye regulations after it completes its fall netting assessment. This year's assessment found the walleye population remained relatively stable over the past four years, rebounding from population lows seen from 2012-2016.
The walleye harvested this winter will be counted toward the state's annual share of walleye from the lake under the 1837 treaty, which calls for anglers to share the harvest with eight Ojibwe tribes that have fishing rights under the treaty. The state's allowable harvest for 2021 will be set early next year, with early water fishing regulations expected in March 2021.
Information about Mille Lacs Lake, including complete fishing regulations, is available on the DNR's website.
Meanwhile, anglers on Upper Red Lake will be limited to three walleye, with only one larger than 17 inches allowed, the DNR said in October.