The Minnesota Department of natural resources is closing one of the most popular walleye fisheries in Minnesota do to high fish mortality.
A combination of high catch rates and hook mortality has ended the walleye season on Mille Lacs. The MDRN will reases the situation in November for the upcoming ice fishing season, but for now walleye season is over. Here’s what the MDRN had to say in their press release:
Walleye fishing on Mille Lacs Lake will close Friday, Sept. 6, so state anglers do not exceed a safe walleye harvest level.
“We’re glad anglers had the opportunity to harvest walleye in May and fish for walleye through much of the open water season,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Because angling pressure and walleye catch rates were high, the coming closure is necessary to stay within established limits.”
High angling pressure and catch rates in July and August when water temperatures were at their warmest increased hooking mortality, resulting in a larger-than-expected walleye kill. Hooking mortality, which is more likely as water temperatures warm, occurs when a fish is caught and returned to the water but dies anyway.
The state of Minnesota and Ojibwe tribal authorities with fishing rights on Mille Lacs agreed on a 2019 safe harvest level of 87,800 pounds for state anglers and 62,200 pounds for tribal fishing.
“Mille Lacs Lake walleye regulations allowed some harvest this year but it’s still important to proceed with caution to ensure continued recovery of the lake’s walleye,” Parsons said. “The restrictive regulations we enacted in previous years protected young walleye, allowing the population to increase to a number not observed since before 2007. Continuing to manage the Mille Lacs walleye fishery for recovery will allow us to provide good angling opportunities in the future.”
Starting Sept. 6 at 12:01 a.m., anglers will not be able to target walleye when fishing on Mille Lacs Lake. Anglers may fish for other species and use live bait.
Walleye regulations for the winter of 2019-2020 on Mille Lacs Lake will be announced in November after data from fall walleye assessments are available. Winter regulations become effective on Sunday, Dec. 1.
Find more information on Mille Lacs Lake at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.
In the mean time Minnesota anglers can head over to North Dakota where they are catching some monster walleye.
Featured image courtesy Jerry “Woody”