Night fishing will open July 21 on Mille Lacs Lake

The night-fishing ban for walleye anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be lifted July 21 at 10 p.m., according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

In past years, the Mille Lacs Lake night closure, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., began the Monday after the May opener and continued through mid-June. This year’s regulations originally extended the closure to Dec. 1 to help ensure state-licensed anglers did not catch more walleyes than the lake’s safe harvest limit allowed. If that limit was reached, anglers would have had to release all walleyes instead of being allowed to keep two. The possession limit is two fish from 18 to 20 inches. One fish may be longer than 28 inches.

The night-fishing ban was lifted because anglers are catching fewer walleyes on the lake this summer. So far, anglers have caught about 10,000 pounds of walleyes, DNR officials said. Fisheries officials believe anglers won’t catch more than the harvest limit of 42,900 pounds of walleyes.

Anglers have caught fewer walleye because walleyes are feeding on an abundance of perch in Mille Lacs this year and because of reduced fishing pressure.

“The DNR is not removing the night closure because Mille Lacs Lake has recovered,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief. “More young walleye still need to survive their first year and keep growing from year to year into larger walleye. Conditions this year combined for a slow bite, allowing DNR to re-open an activity that helps the Mille Lacs area economy and is a tradition among many fishing families.”

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