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Walleye limit on Mille Lacs once again tightened to historic levels

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Once you pop – well, you actually have to stop, because there's a one-fish limit now.

The walleye limit on Lake Mille Lacs for the upcoming fishing season will be just one, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday. That's down from the limit of two 18- to 20-inch fish that was in effect for 2014.

The goal is to help restore the lake's walleye population to safe levels, and DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira said it's in hope of avoiding a catch-and-release-only regulation on Mille Lacs during the latter portion of the season.

So here's your limit: One walleye that's either 19-21 inches long, or one that's longer than 28 inches.

In addition, a night fishing ban will once again be in place, starting the Monday after the May 9 opener. That lasts all the way through Dec. 1.

The total safe harvest level for this year is 40,000 pounds – down from 60,000 in 2014, which was already a historic tightening at the time. The DNR says 11,400 pounds of that is reserved for eight Chippewa bands under the terms of an 1837 treaty.

All of these limits stem from concern over the number of walleye in the lake, which the DNR previously said had reached its lowest level in 40 years.

But not everybody is happy. Some Lake Mille Lacs resort owners sued the DNR, saying the agency didn’t have the authority to limit the annual walleye catch on the lake. But in February, two appeals courts ruled in favor of the DNR.

In October, the DNR said it was encouraged by the results of its annual Mille Lacs walleye survey, which showed that more yearling walleye survived than in previous years.

More regulations announced

In addition to the walleye limit, the DNR provided some details on more Mille Lacs regulations:

  • Limit of 10 northern pike. One fish may be longer than 30 inches, only if two fish shorter than 30 inches are caught on the same trip and in possession.
  • Limit of six smallmouth and largemouth bass in combination. Only one smallmouth bass may be longer than 18 inches.
  • Muskie night fishing will be allowed starting June 8 as long as artificial lures longer than 8 inches or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches are used.
  • Bow fishing for rough fish will be allowed at night (also starting June 8) as long as no angling equipment is in the boat.

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