DNR plans slightly looser walleye rules for Mille Lacs Lake

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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ST. PAUL  — Walleye angling rules for Mille Lacs Lake will be slightly looser for the 2022 open water season, the Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.

As with last year, Mille Lacs anglers will be allowed to keep one walleye between 21 and 23 inches or one longer than 28 inches from the season opener on May 14 through May 30.

Then the popular lake goes to catch-and-release walleye fishing for most of the summer, with a two-week closure at the start of July to reduce hooking mortality, the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released when the water is warmer.

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But unlike last year, the DNR said it expects to restore the one-fish limit Sept. 1. The agency said that’s possible because this winter’s walleye harvest was les than half of what was expected.

DNR fisheries manager Brad Parsons cautioned that tighter rules may be needed in coming years because the survival rate for walleyes that hatched in 2018 and 2019 was below normal.

Mille Lacs has been in a state of change since the 1990s, when the water clarity started to improve and the walleye population dropped. Since then, the lake also has experienced warmer water temperatures and the introduction of invasive species such as zebra mussels and spiny water fleas.