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2020 Mille Lacs Lake Fishing Reports


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Wanderer

You can keep 3, totaling up to 100 inches, if you’re fishing with leeches~~.  Fire up the boat!  😉

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Bite was good again this morning. Including another keeper. Set lines and jigging about 50/50 on fish. If the fish was there it was eating. 🎣🎣🎣 Tight Lines everyone!

I was on perfect rocky structure last Weds. in 19-27'. Had it all to myself. Only 1 Ice Castle within 200 yards. Fishing was decent. Caught 8 respectable walleyes, all on Slab Raps. All while hole-hop

My parent's friend caught this 2 days ago.  Measured 54 inches and estimated weight over 50 pounds.  They're in the shallows chasing the cisco spawn.

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leech~~
8 hours ago, Wanderer said:

You can keep 3, totaling up to 100 inches, if you’re fishing with leeches~~.  Fire up the boat!  😉

 

Yeah why don't you go Wanderer and jump in that river over yonder!  Pal. 🙃

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gimruis
On 6/10/2021 at 7:46 AM, leech~~ said:

Really, dang I must have missed the DNR update. So how many Walleyes can we keep and eat now 4-5?

 

That was not your initial question.  Your initial question "how long are they going to play with this lake before they let us fish?" Your follow up question was "how many walleyes can I keep?"

 

To answer your initial question, the lake is open except at night time unless you're fishing muskies.  Its open all day, every day for walleyes, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.  There is a planned walleye closure from July 1-15.

 

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leech~~
3 hours ago, gimruis said:

 

That was not your initial question.  Your initial question "how long are they going to play with this lake before they let us fish?" Your follow up question was "how many walleyes can I keep?"

 

To answer your initial question, the lake is open except at night time unless you're fishing muskies.  Its open all day, every day for walleyes, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.  There is a planned walleye closure from July 1-15.

 

 

Yep, when are they going to open Walleye back up and let us Fish-keep and eat some!  Like Red.  👍

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3 hours ago, leech~~ said:

Yep, when are they going to open Walleye back up and let us Fish-keep and eat some!  Like Red.

 

Probably not anytime soon, maybe never.  The days of keeping 3 or 4 fish on that lake are over.  The lake is not the same as it was just 15 years ago.

 

The best you can hope for in terms of harvest is one in a specific length, most likely in the winter season.  There's plenty of northern pike in the lake and the bag limit on those is generous.

 

It is going to continue to primarily a catch and release sport fishery.  The smallmouth bass fishing is ranked as some of the best in the entire country and there is likely a state record muskie present.  The walleye fishing is also still fantastic in terms of numbers.  There is literally no other lake within 90 minutes of the Twin Cities that has walleye fishing like that where you can catch 30 or 40 in a day.  Its not always about harvesting.  Embrace it for what it is.  Or go somewhere else.

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whateverisbiting

If you can catch 30-40 eyes a day why would there be such a restriction?  Seems hard to believe that allowing people to bring home a couple would impact the population.  Does not seem like the right balance here.

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1 hour ago, whateverisbiting said:

If you can catch 30-40 eyes a day why would there be such a restriction?  Seems hard to believe that allowing people to bring home a couple would impact the population.  Does not seem like the right balance here.

Hundreds of boats bringing home “a couple” for each guy in the boat would be thousands of fish each weekend. That’s not even to mention during the week or the winter. The fishery would change for the worse in one summer. 
 

I was up there 2 weeks ago and we had a 30-40 fish apiece day. It was the most fun I’ve had walleye fishing in a long time. Maybe ever. Just enjoy it for what it is!

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4 hours ago, gimruis said:

 There is literally no other lake within 90 minutes of the Twin Cities that has walleye fishing like that where you can catch 30 or 40 in a day. 


This is what will keep it from being what it once was.  The amount of constant pressure that lake sees day after day is insane.  It’s not as “Up North” as it once was.  The tech we have now compared to even the 80’s makes everything so much more attainable.  Trucks, boats, electronics, mapping, better roads, all of it.  What was once a weekend adventure is just a day trip now.

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The lake sustained 50 resorts for 60-70 years before netting started. Taking out breeders is what changed. 

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I don't disagree with either of those statements that @Wanderer and @leech have said.

 

Part of the selling point of Mille Lacs for me is the fact that I can get there and back in a one-day trip because I live about 90 minutes away from the south shore.

 

While I do agree that netting is part of the problem, its more complex than that now.  Lack of forage, competition from other predatory species, clearing water, warmer water, invasive species, etc have all played a significant role.  Recent studies have shown that it still has the same amount of reproduction as it used to, but when fish get to a specific size, they are eaten.  Mostly by bigger walleyes.  That's because there's a lack of other small bait fish to eat, mainly perch.

 

There is going to be a massive cisco die-off again this summer if things don't change soon here.  With the water being down about 15 inches, the lack of rain, and extremely warm temperatures, mortality amongst that species which requires cooler, well-oxygenated water will be very high.

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Oldie but a goody.  

Someone told me they didn't take big breeders out because their net mesh sizes wouldn't catch them!  🙄

This is where the Jumbo perch have gone as well.  I'm sure now a days they wouldn't even let someone in to video this anymore!  😏

 

 

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Wanderer

There really isn’t a shortage of walleyes in the lake anymore @leech~~.  Like @gimruismentioned, it’s a shortage of food for them.  They’ve been skinny fish for years now.  Plenty of fish + low food = 30 or more fish per day, which has increased pressure.  
 

Thanks for the video.  Yes that was a good haul of healthy looking fish.  I haven’t been a fan of the nets either but honestly after looking at the video they bother me less than before I saw it.  They were harvesting mainly walleyes and processing them responsibly so they’d get used.  You gotta know that if the limits were raised these days all the fish cleaning shacks at the resorts would look similar to that until there weren’t any more fish coming in.

 

I think everyone agrees the lake needs better balance but we’re all making an impact on it while it cycles through its own natural challenges of having enough forage.  
 

IMO, more walleyes do need to be harvested but one small change will have a huge impact.  I’m glad I’m not the one managing it.

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Ok so my question is, if it's a known fact that the lake is lacking bait fish WHY doesn't the DNR focus on stocking that???🤔🥴🙄

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Wanderer

I don’t know, except that I’ve never heard of the DNR raising perch for stocking and cold water fish like tullibee would cost more than they’re worth.  The expense to raise cold water fish is high - that’s why they stopped stocking lake trout as much and were debating about a hatchery on the north shore to take advantage of the already cold Lake Superior water to reduce expenses.  Plus tullibee do have summer die offs anyway in sub prime conditions.

 

I’m assuming it’s a delicate balance issue.  Or we’re just not set up in any way to produce “forage” for stocking and won’t just dump a bunch of minnows in lake?  But again I really don’t know.

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1 hour ago, Wanderer said:

There really isn’t a shortage of walleyes in the lake anymore @leech~~.  Like @gimruismentioned, it’s a shortage of food for them.  They’ve been skinny fish for years now.  Plenty of fish + low food = 30 or more fish per day, which has increased pressure.  
 

Thanks for the video.  Yes that was a good haul of healthy looking fish.  I haven’t been a fan of the nets either but honestly after looking at the video they bother me less than before I saw it.  They were harvesting mainly walleyes and processing them responsibly so they’d get used.  You gotta know that if the limits were raised these days all the fish cleaning shacks at the resorts would look similar to that until there weren’t any more fish coming in.

 

I think everyone agrees the lake needs better balance but we’re all making an impact on it while it cycles through its own natural challenges of having enough forage.  
 

IMO, more walleyes do need to be harvested but one small change will have a huge impact.  I’m glad I’m not the one managing it.

Yeah since there's what may be 20 out of 50+ resorts left from the past around the lake cleaning slot fish. Probably not going to be as bad as cleaning out breeders with nets. I still have that silly thought that someday all men will share our natural resources evenly. And I'm not even a squishy tree hugging liberal! 🤭

Edited by leech~~
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24 minutes ago, Wanderer said:

I’m assuming it’s a delicate balance issue.  Or we’re just not set up in any way to produce “forage” for stocking and won’t just dump a bunch of minnows in lake?  But again I really don’t know.

 

The only species they've ever stocked in that lake has been pure strain muskies.  And even that is at a super low rate nowadays.  The reason they don't stock it with walleye was because the genetic strain then becomes diluted.  Every walleye in that lake was and has been naturally produced.  When you introduce a stocked strain, the genetics change.

 

As for stocking it with bait fish or forage, its probably just way too expensive I'm guessing.  With the water being so clear and warm now, its not as fertile either and the bottom of the food chain has been altered, which affects everything to the top in some way.  We used to catch sooooooooo many perch out there when we walleye fished and now we catch like 2 all season.

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