Mille Lacs walleye season to close Sept. 6

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

The Department of Natural Resources will be closing the Mille Lacs Lake catch-and-release walleye season in Sept., after receiving concerns from eight Chippewa bands.

The lake saw higher than expected hooking mortality rates this season. The state's current estimated walleye harvest is 45,276 pounds, which exceeds the original quota by 16,676 pounds. Experts believe warm water temperatures and high catch rates in July and August led to the high rates.

The state decided earlier this month to continue the walleye season in order not to impact area businesses.

“Although the state’s estimated overage does not pose a conservation risk to the lake’s walleye population, we recognize the impact that continued fishing could have on our relationship with the bands,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. 

Governor Mark Dayton released the following statement in regards to the decision:

“Closing the walleye fishing season on Mille Lacs earlier this month would have devastated area businesses and communities. Thanks to the strong 2013 class of young walleye, we were able to keep the walleye season open on Mille Lacs without negatively impacting the health and future of the walleye fishery."

“I thank the Chippewa bands for their commitment to restoring the health of Mille Lacs and its walleyes. After assessing their concerns and the decreased economic impact on local businesses after Labor Day, I have directed the DNR to close Mille Lacs’ catch-and-release walleye season on Tuesday, September 6, 2016."

“Mille Lacs continues to have world-class northern pike, muskie, and small mouth bass fishing. I invite Minnesotans and out-of-state tourists to enjoy excellent fishing for those species in the fall.”

The season will officially end at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 6.