Mille Lacs anglers will be able to keep some walleye this year

It follows several years of catch-and-release for conservation purposes.
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Good news, fishing fans, you'll be able to keep some of the walleye you catch on Lake Mille Lacs.

Following several seasons of catch-and-release fishing in order to boost walleye populations, the Minnesota DNR says fish stocks are at a level it can "cautiously" allow anglers to keep some fish caught during the "cool-water periods of spring and fall."

The state and eight Chippewa bands with fishing rights on the lake have agreed to a safe harvest level of 150,000 pounds of walleye in 2019, with the state receiving an allocation of 87,800 pounds.

Under the catch-and-release rules last year, walleye kill only totaled 47,000 pounds.

There are expected to be more details of how many fish anglers will be allowed to keep and of what weight next month, when the DNR's management plan is announced.

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Nonetheless it will come as a boost to businesses that are dependent on fishing around Mille Lacs when the open-water season begins May 11.

"We’re happy to announce that, with some very conservative fishing regulations over the past three years, walleye are now at a level where we can cautiously allow anglers to start keeping some fish during the open-water season,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen.

Mille Lacs Band DNR Commissioner Bradley Harrington added: “The upward trend of the walleye population reflects the conservation efforts of both the state of Minnesota and the Ojibwe tribes with harvest rights in Mille Lacs Lake.

“While it is critical that combined harvest limits should continue to allow for the recovery of walleye, we join the state in cautious optimism about the trend in increasing spawning biomass."

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