DNR says it may close walleye season on Mille Lacs Lake

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota could be forced to close walleye fishing on Mille Lacs Lake as early as Aug. 3 because anglers are just 3,000 pounds shy of exceeding the state’s quota for the season on the popular but struggling lake, Department of Natural Resources officials said Tuesday.

“This is a pretty painful time we’re in,” DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr told reporters. “We’ve got to make some tough choices.”

Landwehr urged anglers to target the lake’s abundant northern pike and smallmouth bass instead.

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It would be the first time the state has had to close the walleye season on Mille Lacs, one of the state’s most popular fishing destinations. But with walleye numbers at a 30-year low, the state’s quota was set at just 28,600 pounds this season. Size rules were tightened and the bag limit was cut to one. The eight Ojibwe bands with treaty rights on Mille Lacs are allowed 11,400 pounds this season, and they’ve taken all but about 1,000 pounds of their share.