Walleye limit set on Mille Lacs Lake

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources set walleye limits for the 2022 fishing season on Mille Lacs Lake. According to a press release from the DNR, anglers will be able to harvest one walleye between 21 and 23 inches, or one longer than 28 inches, from May 14 through May 30. The summer will then be catch-and-release, with an early July closure scheduled to help reduce hooking mortality.

The DNR says anglers will have another one-fish limit from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30.

“We must continue to manage state harvest very carefully on Mille Lacs so we can provide as much angling opportunity as prudent while protecting the opportunities for the future,” Brad Parsons, the DNR’s fisheries section manager, said in a press release. “Two recent year classes show below average numbers of walleye, which means we need to factor in that fewer fish than normal will mature into spawning adults during the next few years.”

According to the DNR, the fall catch rate for walleye in 2018 and 2019 didn’t drop as dramatically as past years. However, the drops still signaled the potential need for more conservative walleye harvest regulations in future years.

“Our goal for Mille Lacs fishing regulations now and in the future is to offer fishing opportunities while also maintaining the long-term sustainability of the lake’s fish populations,” Parsons said.

Officials say fishing will be allowed 24 hours a day on opening weekend, but will then change to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all species.

The DNR say starting June 4, muskie and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches can fish after 10 p.m.

The season structure depends on many factors. Parsons says that predicting catch rates and weather involves many uncertainties, "so we want people to recognize that the fall harvest will depend on how much of the state’s walleye harvest total remains as we approach September.”

State and Ojibwe band leaders have agreed to a total walleye harvest of 135,000 pounds for this year, with 80,300 pounds of that for state anglers.

While DNR officials are closely watching walleye population levels on Mille Lacs, they say the northern pike population is healthy, even encouraging anglers to harvest those under 30 inches as another option for a meal of fish.

More information on Mille Lacs Lake is available online.