ST. PAUL, Minn. – Restrictions on the take of Walleye from Mille Lacs Lake will remain in place for the upcoming fishing season.
Don Pereira, DNR Chief of the Section on Fisheries, made the announcement on Tuesday.
For the 2014 season on the big lake, walleye daily and possession limits are unchanged.
"The limit will be two walleye from 18-20 inches, except one longer than 28 inches, may be taken," read a DNR press release. "The night fishing ban, enforced from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., will begin on Monday, May 12 and will be extended through Monday, Dec. 1, rather than ending in mid-June."
"What is really concerning us is the fact that we have had an elevated rate of mortality for juvenile walleyes beginning after their first year," said Pereira. "We are still really good reproduction and loss of young fish in the lake that the 2013 year class were very abundant this past year and they grew really well, but what we have seen, what we have been seeing for awhile now is that they are not surviving up to age three."
Pereira said there is no definite cause of the problem with the young walleye.
"It could be an increase in predators in the system. It may be related to water clarity that actually goes all the way back to the mid-late 1990s … If we cannot turn it around and get young fish surviving, then the implications could be pretty severe."
Pereira added that there is some good news for Minnesota anglers. Northern pike and smallmouth bass restrictions are easing.
"One of the key things that is happening on the lake is northern pike and smallmouth bass have been increasing in numbers in recent years," said Pereira. "So, we definitely want to provide more angling opportunity for the public. We are going to go to a bag of 10 (from 3) … We are also going to extend the Pike season all the way through the last Sunday in March."
Smallmouth Bass season will begin on May 10 and anglers may harvest smallmouth bass until the last Sunday in February. They may still keep six fish, only one of which may be longer than 18 inches.