ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Catch-and-release walleye fishing will re-open on Mille Lacs Lake this weekend, starting at 6 a.m. on Friday Aug. 11, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday. The use of live bait will also return to Mille Lacs. Walleye season will continue through Monday, Sept. 4.
“After an extended mid-season closure, we look forward to reopening the lake to catch-and-release walleye fishing,” said a statement from Don Pereira, the DNR's fisheries section chief.
The DNR enacted a temporary ban as the lake continues to struggle with its walleye population. For the second year in a row, anglers are only allowed to catch and release walleye, but the goal of the ban is to prevent fish from dying after being caught and released.
The night fishing ban will remain in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Nov. 30. Current regulations allow anglers to fish for muskie and northern pike at night, but they may only use artificial lures longer than 8 inches or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. Bowfishing for rough fish also is allowed at night but possession of angling equipment is not allowed and only rough fish may be in possession.
As of July 31, anglers had harvested 47,899 pounds of walleye, out of the state’s conservation cap of 55,800 pounds. The DNR made the decision in July to dip into the conservation cap in order to extend the walleye season through Labor Day.
Mille Lacs has historically been a prime walleye destination, but lately resorts have been promoting the lake’s other species while the DNR works to restore the walleye population.