DNR reverses live bait ban on Mille Lacs Lake

Casting a line on the last day for walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs. Photo by Ted Haller / Fox 9.

After hearing from concerned anglers, the Minnesota DNR has reversed its ban on live bait on Mille Lacs Lake. Live bait will be allowed, starting with the Saturday, May 14 fishing opener. The live bait ban was previously announced in conjunction with the walleye ban that remains in place for this season.

“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,” said DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira.

DNR staff heard concerns that it would be difficult for some anglers to adapt to using only artificial bait, with a long tradition of bobber fishing on Mille Lacs. Anglers were also concerned that a live bait ban could discourage young anglers.

The reason for the initial live bait ban was to reduce walleye mortality during catch-and-release fishing. The DNR says studies show artificial bait can reduce hooking mortality because fish are less likely to swallow artificial bait and suffer internal damage from a hook.