Allowing harvest of smaller fish offers more opportunity to keep a walleye
The minimum length of walleye Mille Lacs Lake anglers can keep drops from 21 to 20 inches beginning Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Mille Lacs’ one-fish limit will remain in place, but the change allows anglers to keep one walleye between 20-23 inches or one longer than 28. The previous limit was one walleye 21-23 inches or one longer than 28.
“With the catch rates we’ve had this spring and early summer, we can expand opportunity a bit for the rest of the open water season without harm to the long-term sustainability of the lake’s walleye population,” said Brian Nerbonne, central region fisheries manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The recent lower catch rate of Mille Lacs walleye is less a reflection of the number of walleyes in the lake than the abundance of natural forage. Minnesota DNR population models that incorporate test netting done each fall indicate that the number of walleyes in the lake longer than 14 inches has been similar from 2020-2023, but test netting shows an increase in the abundance of yellow perch from strong recent year classes. With more forage fish to eat, walleye have not been as willing to bite on anglers’ lines.
“Although the relaxed slot limit may not seem like a big change, the current size structure of walleye in the lake means this will increase anglers’ chances of catching a harvestable fish,” Nerbonne said.
Regulations for all other species on the lake remain unchanged. New walleye regulations will be announced in November for the winter season, which begins Friday, Dec. 1.
More information about fishing regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, ongoing Minnesota DNR management and research, citizen engagement and Mille Lacs area recreation opportunities is available on the Minnesota DNR website (mndnr.gov/millelacslake).