No change in Mille Lacs walleye slot, northern pike regulation relaxed
Anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs will need to follow the same walleye regulations as in 2010, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).The season will open Saturday, May 14, with a regulation that will allow anglers to keep up to four walleyes less than 18 inches, which may include one trophy more than 28 inches. Anglers must release all walleyes from 18 to 28 inches.
Starting July 15, if angler harvest is low enough to allow it, anglers may be allowed to keep walleyes up to 20 inches with one trophy more than 28 inches in the four fish limit. All walleyes from 20 to 28 inches would then need to be released.
The slot would revert to four walleyes up to 18 inches with one more than 28 inches in the four fish limit on Dec. 1. Any regulation changes would be posted at the accesses as well as on the DNR website.
“The walleye regulation is the same as last year and should provide anglers with ample opportunities to harvest some fish, very similar to last season,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR Fisheries chief. “The angling this winter has been pretty decent; anglers harvested nearly 24,000 pounds of walleye, which suggests a similarly decent bite for the open water season.”
For northern pike, the regulation will be a protected slot from 27 to 40 inches, with one trophy more than 40 inches allowed in the standard three fish possession limit. This regulation is a change from the 24- to 36-inch slot limit that has been in effect since 2002.
The new pike regulation is in response to the last several years of minimal angler harvest, an increase in abundance of northern pike, and a desire to maximize the trophy potential of this fast-growing population of pike. Mille Lacs pike regularly grow to sizes in excess of 40 inches. The northern pike regulation printed in the 2011 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet does not reflect this change but is correct in the online version.
“The new pike regulation increases anglers’ opportunities to harvest some of the smaller fish, while increasing the chances of being able to catch a true trophy northern pike,” said Peterson.
The combination of strong 2007 and 2008 year classes of walleye, now mostly 13-16 inches, will provide for a decent catch of eating sized walleyes for anglers to keep, while numerous year classes of older fish, now more than 18 inches, will provide for excellent catch and release experiences.
“With the rebounding of the Mille Lacs tullibee population in recent years, the larger fish have filled out and are now in very healthy condition,” Peterson said.
Last year, anglers caught more than 800,000 pounds of walleye and harvested 271,000 pounds (including 44,000 pounds of hooking mortality) under the same slot limit.
“These regulations continue to protect the long-term health of the fishery, allow excellent opportunity for anglers, and safeguard economic interests,” Peterson said. “The decision to maintain the same walleye regulation was made based on the best biological data as well as input from anglers and resort owners.”