As announced Monday, anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be able to keep one walleye daily between 18 and 20 inches or one longer than 28 inches when winter fishing begins Dec. 1, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials announced today.
The winter walleye regulation will continue through Feb. 28, 2016.
The DNR made the decision with input from the recently formed Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee.
“The clear consensus among committee members was to implement a conservative regulation allowing fishing to continue throughout the winter without the risk of closure,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief. “We believe this regulation meets that criteria.”
If winter walleye harvest approaches the established cap, catch-and-release will be implemented so angling can continue.
During last winter’s ice fishing season, Mille Lacs anglers could keep two walleye from 18 to 20 inches, except one out of those two walleye could be longer than 28 inches.
DNR staff will monitor creel data every two weeks during the winter. If angler walleye harvest appears likely to exceed this year’s 5,000-pound cap, catch-and-release walleye fishing would go into effect. State anglers harvested 3,100 pounds of walleye last winter.
Tribal biologists and the DNR agreed Oct. 15 to set the winter harvest cap for state anglers at 5,000 pounds after September fish assessment data showed that pounds of spawning-age walleye and numbers of walleye from the 2013 year class were above established benchmarks.
The DNR also will reduce the limit of northern pike on Mille Lacs from 10 to five, with one fish longer than 30 inches allowed. Anglers may only keep a northern longer than 30 inches if they have caught two pike shorter than 30 inches and have both in immediate possession.
The pike regulation goes into effect on Dec. 1 and continues through March 27, 2016. Its intent is to provide anglers with additional opportunity to catch and keep fish on Mille Lacs.