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DNR changes its mind: You can use live bait on Mille Lacs this year

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After much feedback, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reversing its live bait ban on Mille Lacs Lake for this year.

The announcement came after a pro-and-con discussion regarding the ban between the Mille Lacs Fisheries advisory committee and the DNR, the agency announced Thursday.

“The DNR is hearing that anglers are accepting of the catch-and-release aspect of the walleye season, but members of the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee heard clear concerns about the live bait restriction, as did the DNR," Don Pereira, fisheries section chief for the DNR, said in the release.

Those concerns included the difficult for anglers to adapt to artificial bait, and discouraging young anglers. Furthermore, bobber fishing with live bait is a tradition on the lake.

"We have had reasonable discussions with the DNR and they have changed the regulations to make them more appealing to a wider range of anglers, while still protecting the resource," said Johnsons Portside – a local bait, liquor and convenience store – in a Facebook post. "This discussion and resolution shows that we are all determined, first and foremost, to increase the walleye populations in Mille Lacs, while still providing the best recreational opportunities on Mille Lacs for families, children, and fishermen with a wide range of experience."

The DNR announced fishing regulations for Mille Lacs Lake last month. They were the strictest rules ever imposed on the lake, but were meant to avoid having to shut down the walleye season halfway through the year – like what happened last year.

The other regulations remain in place, including the catch-and-release regulation for walleye. Check out the other rules for this season here.

The DNR’s strict management plan comes after after years of a declining walleye population in the lake.

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