Good news for Mille Lacs?
By Javier Serna Outdoor News, Vol. 51, No. 45

Assistant Editor Javier Mille Lacs committee gets some good news reported on the latest Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee meeting held on October 5th. MLFAC focused on recent DNR assessments and the possibility of open water harvests next summer.

The big question from MLFAC, since walleye numbers keep increasing according to the DNR, will any be harvested this summer? So far a strong year class hasn’t been enough to get the DNR past its apprehension about its being targeted. That left anglers tossing everything back and quotas mostly made up of “hooking mortality.”

Now, another decent year class (2014), data showing a walleye population three times the size from the last assessment, after years of restrictive regulations might open the door to the actual harvest of walleye. The 2017 year-class is looking good as well. However, the DNR wants to see the class look good for two years before thinking about harvest.

A lot of questions remain regarding the relationship between forage and walleye abundance and condition. Assumptions aren’t always matching anglers’ experience.

Hope for some walleye harvest next open water season is growing. Which makes managing expectations key for the DNR. One way was attempting to find out what mattered most to committee members.

Options such as ending the night ban or adding an hour in the evening when anglers may fish among others were discussed. But that all “will increase in the amount of pressure” according to Brad Parsons, DNR Fisheries chief. To which committee member Steve Johnson said that at some point “you need to do it and try it.”

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