(KMSP) - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is analyzing data collected on Lake Mille Lacs to uncover more clues about the walleye population there. Crews have spent the past few weeks netting fish on the lake in an effort to estimate the population.
“What that does is gives us the data that we then enter into our models to determine the population size of walleye in the lake and what direction it’s trending,” said Brad Parsons, DNR Regional Fisheries Manager.
Concerns about low population have led to restrictions on walleye fishing. Anglers have dealt with catch and release policies or outright bans on walleye fishing.
Business owners along the lake say the restrictions have been devastating to the bottom line.
“There’s really no choice. It has to change. They have to let us keep fish next year, or we’re going to lose more businesses,” said Greg Thomas, owner of Gregory’s Resort near Garrison.
Parsons said it was too early to draw any conclusions from this year’s survey, but hope to release the results in the coming weeks.
“There’s a lot of data to look at and a lot of things that we have to do very carefully and it takes a little bit of time,” Parsons said. “I know people are very anxious to hear what is going on, and then we’ll get that out just as soon as we possibly can.”
Regulations for the open water fishing season should be released early next year.