ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday, Nov. 3, announced that the winter walleye regulation will allow anglers to keep one walleye between 19 and 21 inches or one longer than 28 inches.
The 2016-17 winter regulation continues last winter’s one fish limit but moves the harvest slot up slightly from last year’s 18 to 20 inches.
The winter walleye season begins Thursday, Dec. 1, and extends through Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.
Tribal and DNR biologists met Nov. 1 to evaluate the status of the walleye population following the completion of the 2015-2016 fishing season. The key conservation goal of conserving the abundant 2013 year class was achieved, with minimal fishing mortality occurring during the past year and key population benchmarks successfully met. Those factors combined to support a modest winter harvest for Mille Lacs Lake walleye.
“The winter season regulation enables Mille Lacs anglers to catch and keep walleye while providing necessary fish conservation and support to the Mille Lacs area economy,” said DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira.
“This regulation allows continued protection of walleye in Mille Lacs’ abundant 2013 year class, which are the lake’s future spawners,” he added.
Northern pike will provide anglers and darkhouse spearers with additional opportunity to harvest fish on Mille Lacs this winter. Like last winter, ice anglers and spearers can keep up to five fish with one longer than 30 inches. However, in order to keep the one northern pike longer than 30 inches, anglers and spearers must have caught or speared two northern pike shorter than 30 inches and have both smaller fish in immediate possession.
The pike regulation goes into effect on Dec. 1. It continues through Sunday, March 26, 2017, for angling and Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 for spearing.
For now, bass regulations will remain the same. But on the heels of a very successful Toyota Angler of the Year tournament and the increased attention it has focused on Mille Lacs’ world-class smallmouth, discussions with the Mille Lacs advisory committee will be ongoing to determine if changes may be warranted for the open water bass season.
More information about Mille Lacs Lake management is available on the DNR website at http://www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.