ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says anglers will be able to keep some walleye during the open-water season on Mille Lacs Lake this year.
The DNR announced the decision Thursday. The decision follows several seasons of catch-and-release fishing on the premier walleye lake in central Minnesota.
"Walleye are definitely the state fish, and that's what people are looking for," said Steve Kulifaj, owner of the Red Door Resort.
Kulifaj has felt the pain caused by the last three summers, when people were not allowed to keep any of the walleye they caught on the lake.
"Pretty significant. I think a lot of the smaller resorts are barely holding on. A lot of the other businesses in the area are affected," Kulifaj said.
Although the official rules are not announced yet, Kulifaj, who's on the advisory committee, believes it will be a limit of one, and that the catch and release rule will probably go back into effect for the month of July.
Regulators say state anglers stayed well under Mille Lacs' safe-harvest allocation for walleyes last year. With the walleye population improving, the DNR will allow some walleye harvest when the season opens May 11.
Walleye regulations for the upcoming season on Mille Lacs will be announced in mid-March.
The state and Ojibwe bands with fishing rights on Mille Lacs recently agreed on a safe harvest level of 150,000 pounds of walleye. That provides a state allocation of 87,800 pounds.