ST. PAUL, Minn. - Officials have extended the walleye fishing closure on Mille Lacs Lake for an extra two weeks, saying it's necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the lake's struggling walleye population.
The decision means walleye fishing on Mille Lacs will remain closed until Friday, Aug 11. In order to extend the walleye fishing season through Labor Day, the state will allow for an additional 11,000 pounds of walleye harvest. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will run from Friday, Aug. 11, through Monday, Sept. 4, for the Labor Day weekend. Walleye fishing will then be closed from Tuesday, Sept. 5, through Thursday, Nov. 30.
As these regulation changes were announced, Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr reiterated the state’s commitment to rebuilding and sustaining a healthy walleye fishery in Mille Lacs Lake.
“Improving the walleye population in Mille Lacs is a top priority for the DNR,” Landwehr said. “We deeply regret the hardships these new regulations will cause for anglers and business owners. But they are essential to protect and enhance the future of walleye fishing in the lake for future generations. We will continue doing everything we can to understand the challenges facing the walleye fishery, and take whatever actions we can to resolve this very difficult situation.”
The DNR said Friday that new data show the total safe harvest allocation of 44,800 pounds has already been exceeded this season, but the DNR will dip into a reserve of 11,000 pounds.
Through the closure, anglers on Mille Lacs Lake may fish for all other species in the lake including bass, muskellunge and northern pike. When fishing for other species, only artificial baits and lures will be allowed in possession, except for anglers targeting northern pike or muskie, who may fish with sucker minnows longer than 8 inches.