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Rick

OutdoorMN News - Catch-and-release summer walleye season announced for Lake Mille Lacs

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Rick

Walleye fishing expected to be open all year; bait restrictions only apply to night walleye closure

2018 season regulations part of strategic effort to protect Mille Lacs’ walleye population

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today announced plans for the 2018 walleye fishing season on Lake Mille Lacs that seek to maximize fishing opportunities for anglers while protecting the health and sustainability of Mille Lacs’ improving walleye population.  

When anglers hit the water on Mille Lacs for the fishing opener on Saturday, May 12, catch-and-release only regulations will again be in effect. The lake’s spawning walleye population has improved from last year, so no mid-season closures are planned.

Similar to prior years, night closure for the 2018 walleye fishing season will be in effect on Mille Lacs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Monday, May 14. The night walleye closure remains in effect throughout the entire open-water season, which ends Nov. 30.

The catch-and-release summer season and night walleye closure are part of the DNR’s continued strategic efforts to understand and improve the walleye population in Lake Mille Lacs.

The population has undergone a decline over the past two decades that has coincided with significant aquatic system changes including increased water clarity and decreased walleye productivity; the introduction of zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny water fleas; a changing zooplankton community that may be altering the aquatic food web; and declines in certain forage species, including tullibee.

“Improving the walleye population on Mille Lacs is a top priority for the DNR,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “We want to see as much walleye fishing on Mille Lacs as possible this year. Anglers have had a very good winter walleye season on the lake and we will be able to continue that trend into the open-water season with no mid-season closure planned.”

DNR Fisheries Chief Don Pereira said DNR analyses as well as external review indicate that the walleye spawning stock has increased significantly in Mille Lacs and the lake can support a larger safe harvest level of walleye in 2018, as long as a catch-and-release rule is in place.

“Implementing a catch-and-release policy this season is important not only for the sustainable growth of Mille Lacs’ walleye population, but for area anglers, businesses, and Mille Lacs area communities,” Pereira said. “We want anglers to get out and enjoy the abundant fishing opportunities on Mille Lacs.”

Pereira added that a catch-and-release season should also allow the state to account for a portion of the excess walleye kill in 2016 and 2017. With catch-and-release measures in place this summer, some of the fish caught and returned to the water may die, a condition known as hooking mortality. The likelihood of fish suffering hooking mortality increases as water temperatures warm. Fish that die as a result of hooking mortality are counted against the state’s harvest allocation.

State and tribal allocations
The state of Minnesota and Chippewa bands that cooperatively manage Lake Mille Lacs have yet to set the safe harvest level for 2018 and discussions are ongoing. These discussions follow the process outlined in protocols and stipulations arising from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1999 to uphold the bands’ treaty rights.

Seeking new solutions to improve and sustain a healthy walleye fishery
In June 2017, the DNR announced that a new external review team of scientists would take a fresh look at Lake Mille Lacs walleye fishery. Led by walleye expert Dr. Chris Vandergoot of the U.S. Geological Survey, this review showed that the DNR’s survey methods met or exceeded accepted best practices, and that interpretations of changes in the lake are correct. A summary of the team’s conclusions and recommendations will be available later this year. DNR staff are currently exploring the feasibility of implementing some of these recommendations.

Bass, northern, and muskellunge regulations
In addition to walleye, the DNR encourages all Minnesotans to visit Lake Mille Lacs to fish the other abundant species that the lake has to offer. The lake is nationally recognized as one of the nation’s top smallmouth bass and muskellunge fisheries. In 2017, Mille Lacs was named the number one bass fishing lake in the nation by Bassmaster Magazine. The lake hosted the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship in 2016 and 2017.

Bass season opens Saturday, May 12, but is catch-and-release only through Friday, May 25. Beginning on Saturday, May 26, Mille Lacs’ bag limit will be four bass per angler. All smallmouth and largemouth bass between 17 and 21 inches must be immediately released. Anglers may keep only one bass over 21 inches.

Lake Mille Lacs has special regulations that exempt it from the new statewide northern pike zone regulations. The northern pike season opens May 12 and anglers may keep up to five fish. All pike between 30 and 40 inches must be immediately released. Only one northern over 40 inches may be included in the bag limit of five.

For muskellunge, the season opens on Saturday, June 2, with the statewide rules of a one fish bag and a minimum length of 54 inches.

Beginning June 2, anglers may fish for muskellunge and northern pike at night, but may only possess and use artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. Bowfishing for rough fish also is allowed at night but possession of angling equipment is not allowed and only rough fish may be in possession.

More information about fishing on Lake Mille Lacs, ongoing DNR management and research, and Mille Lacs area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

Discuss below - to view set the hook here.

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leech~~

They stocker Red when it was way down why not start throwing some fry in Mille Lacs and get on with it!! :angry:

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monstermoose78

Let the walleyes go away I want perch, gills, and crappies!

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leech~~
2 hours ago, monstermoose78 said:

Let the walleyes go away I want perch, gills, and crappies!

Well that may work if Mille Lacs was only 10-12 feet deep all over! :P

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monstermoose78
19 minutes ago, leech~~ said:

Well that may work if Mille Lacs was only 10-12 feet deep all over! :P

No it would have bigger perch 

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delcecchi
3 hours ago, leech~~ said:

They stocker Red when it was way down why not start throwing some fry in Mille Lacs and get on with it!! :angry:

Fry not the problem.  

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leech~~
3 hours ago, delcecchi said:

Fry not the problem.  

No fry is a Big Problem Del!! :mad:   You can't have a fish Fry without Walleye!  :P 

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delcecchi
5 hours ago, leech~~ said:

No fry is a Big Problem Del!! :mad:   You can't have a fish Fry without Walleye!  :P 

Frying fry is too much trouble.

Last I read, plenty of fry were being produced but they weren't surviving to catchable size very well. 

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gimruis

The reason they are hesitant to stock it like they did with Red Lake is because they want to keep the genetic strain pure.  Every time you introduce a new strain it dilutes the existing one.  And given the right conditions, walleyes in Mille Lacs are able to reproduce in massive amounts every spring.  Problem is right now they aren't making it past a specific age, presumably because they are being eaten by other larger predators - mostly bigger walleyes and an expanding pike population.

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leech~~
1 hour ago, gimruis said:

The reason they are hesitant to stock it like they did with Red Lake is because they want to keep the genetic strain pure.  Every time you introduce a new strain it dilutes the existing one.  And given the right conditions, walleyes in Mille Lacs are able to reproduce in massive amounts every spring.  Problem is right now they aren't making it past a specific age, presumably because they are being eaten by other larger predators - mostly bigger walleyes and an expanding pike population.

That's what we keep hearing and it sounds good. But, I'm starting to think our DNR fisheries doesn't even know how Jello works! ;)

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monstermoose78

I think tulipees are eating walleye fry 

Or the spottailed shiners

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Harry Goodliffe

I am from out of state and have been trying to research this issue, from a anglers point of view what do you think is causing the issue?

we had a issue in Missouri where the state shocked up walleyes to strip them for eggs and the boats disrupted the spawn and once disturbed the walleyes aborted spawning.

now this was our native river spawn fish that spawned earlier than the northern strains that they ended up mass stocking, those fish do not seem to get as large as our native strain our state record weight: 21 lbs. 1 oz. 

any insights would be welcomed

 

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monstermoose78
5 hours ago, Harry Goodliffe said:

I am from out of state and have been trying to research this issue, from a anglers point of view what do you think is causing the issue?

we had a issue in Missouri where the state shocked up walleyes to strip them for eggs and the boats disrupted the spawn and once disturbed the walleyes aborted spawning.

now this was our native river spawn fish that spawned earlier than the northern strains that they ended up mass stocking, those fish do not seem to get as large as our native strain our state record weight: 21 lbs. 1 oz. 

any insights would be welcomed

 

There are to many 20-28 inch eyes they eat everything. 

Allow anglers two fish size don’t matter you get two you are done. Bring in extra dnr and fine people who keep fishing. Just like on the rainy river.

 

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gimruis
Posted (edited)

I agree with Moose.  The eating machine in that lake is the large population of big walleyes in mid-20s inch range.  They over harvested the small eating size ones for too long.  Combined with additional predators in the lake such as expanding pike population, smallmouth bass, muskies, etc and a changing environment, all of this is working against the walleye population.  The water is much clearer out there than it used to be only 15 years ago and that does not favor walleyes, who prefer darker water over sunlight.

Edited by gimruis

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Harry Goodliffe
Posted (edited)

I read somewhere a large bow fishing pressure has removed tons of common carp/buffalo from the lakes so much so the avg size of carp has drastically fallen, in other lakes in my research (bass lakes in the south)  some bass year classes have become malnourished since the heavy bow fishing pressure, starting in about 2012 on...granted these are man made lakes with few spawning wetlands, but bait fish populations are up yet the fish show classic big head small bodies consistent with malnourishment, some biologists blame catch and release  for too many bass, yet the baitfish survey suggests plenty of food (thread fin and gizzard shad)

Common carp are surprisingly nutritious, more so than even rainbow trout, we see the effect of bass that feed on trout in western lakes.

 carp eggs and larva are very tiny and seem to be a significant prey item, at least in areas the year 0 fish can't hide in winter killed wetlands before they migrate back into the main lake areas.

water clarity is mentioned to be up and that can happen when carp get removed, its mentioned walleyes do better in water a little less clear?

https://www.twincities.com/2016/05/22/minnesota-bowfishing-tournament-grows-and-carp-shrink/

carp2.jpg

trout.jpg

CIMG8420.JPG

Edited by Harry Goodliffe
grammer

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • gimruis
      This story is part of the reason I try to avoid public hunting areas.  Hunters showing up late, setting up nearby, shooting at birds out of range, etc just ruins the hunt.  Put it this way: if there is a chance other hunters will be around, I won't be.  You've got a good threshold of patience Wanderer.  Way more than I do.
    • Wanderer
      We checked there second - it was way too crowded for what we were looking for.
    • Wanderer
      I have several friends that either live there or have cabins in the area.  And I now drive through Hill City when I go to Ely.   We’ve been deer hunting around Emily for quite a few years now.  I guess you could say I spend some time there. 🙂
    • leech~~
      Word, Yak Bowstring. 😉
    • Big Dave2
      Wanderer, do you frequent the area often?
    • Fishouttawater
      Anyone know what water temps are recently? Hoping they start dropping quick
    • Wanderer
      Well we’re back home and tired!   We tried to get lost as best we could in the Itasca/Cass counties area.  Looking for carry in accesses to kayak into duck hunting heaven. 😅  So was everyone else and they had jon boats with mud motors.   We had a great time despite some negative highlights that really affected everyone’s hunting.  We found a roost during scouting on Friday, along with a great campsite to stay.  The roost and campsite were 2 miles apart though.  We scoped out the closest spot we dared set up the following morning cuz, Don’t shoot the roost, right?  Paddling by 3:30 am we got our spot, not flushing too many birds out.  Sure enough a boat with 3 guys churns past us later and deep into the roost.     Sure enough again, birds blow out but settle back down.  We still think we’re in a good intercept spot with a convincing decoy spread laid out.   Low and behold, 8 minutes before legal shooting hours the three guys open up a barrage of shots that starts scattering everything to the wind.  Birds are whizzing by us but we hold our shots.  5 minutes to go and they open up again.  At 2 minutes to go the rest of the groups in the area start popping off.  Everything is flying high now and showing NO interest in decoys.  We have birds going over us but too darn high.  Not for everyone else though, they’re blasting at birds higher than the tree tops.  Sigh...   The three guys churn back by us maybe an hour into the day - limited out I’m sure.  We were the last ones back to the “carry in” access and were greeted by a group of 4 with 2 boats that scouted Friday also.  We know where each other were hunting.  They had that look on their face like they were expecting some answers.  That was enough for us to say “It wasn’t us!”     It was a civil conversation after that. Local guys, upset with the shenanigans as well.  Three groups were able to get just half a limit with the tough shooting after the blowout.  All pass shooting; nothing coming to the dekes.  Those birds are spooky and know their safe distances.  Such a difference than expected.   We put plenty of miles on the truck and about 15 miles paddling looking for Mecca.  It’s a tough game around there that needs some more time to figure out.  But it’s a fun area to look at.  Short of not coming back with limits of ducks, it was a good, long weekend.  
    • ozzie
      good to hear!  How were ya catching them?  Redtails, trolling, jig n leech?  what depths were ya finding them at? on weedlines or over structure?  I don't want to know the spot but some more detailed information can help us all!😎  Thanks for posting!!
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