• GUESTS

    If You  want access  to member only forums on FM, You will need to Sign-in or  Sign-Up now .

    This box will disappear once you are signed in as a member.

  • Join In - We Share Fishing Reports & Outdoor Information Here

     
      You know what we all love...

      The same things you do!!!! Share what you love & enjoy in the outdoors as well as thank those whose posts you 'appreciate.'

      Have Fun!!!

Sign in to follow this  
Rick

OutdoorMN News - New estimate shows healthy Mille Lacs smallmouth bass population

Recommended Posts

Rick

Since the late 1990s, Mille Lacs Lake has become an increasingly popular destination for anglers who want to catch trophy-sized smallmouth bass. Until now, it wasn’t known how many of these fish – prized more for their fight than their fillets – called the lake home. A population estimate completed in 2018 shows there are some 67,000 smallmouth bass in the 128,000-acre lake.

“This looks like a healthy population,” said Tom Jones, regional fisheries treaty coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “This estimate roughly represents the number of adult bass in the lake. It does not include bass under 12 inches.”

The population estimate would not have been possible without the help of the Mille Lacs Smallmouth Alliance and Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation. The Mille Lacs Smallmouth Alliance kept detailed records of their catches and provided length and tag numbers from more than 2,100 smallmouth bass. Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation held several tournaments on Mille Lacs, including the statewide Tournament of Champions, and anglers provided similar data for more than 1,600 bass.

“Mille Lacs is the number one bass fishery in the United States right now, and we just want to help protect it,” said Jim DeRosa, president of the Mille Lacs Smallmouth Alliance. “We’re really thrilled that we could play a small part in that.”

In 2013, smallmouth bass regulations changed to allow anglers more opportunity to keep smallmouth on Mille Lacs Lake. The move was made to permit anglers to keep some fish during a time when walleye harvest has been restricted or prohibited. During the past five seasons, smallmouth bass regulations have varied, but they generally have allowed harvest of bass under 17 inches. A 20-inch smallmouth bass is generally regarded as a trophy fish.

“One thing smallmouth anglers were concerned about was that allowing harvest would mean fewer big bass,” Jones said. “That’s not what we’ve seen with the most current assessment. About half of the smallmouth are over 17 inches, and that is consistent with what we’ve seen in past assessments of Mille Lacs smallmouth.”

In 2016 and 2017, Mille Lacs Lake hosted the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, and in 2017 Bassmaster Magazine named Mille Lacs Lake the best bass fishery in the nation.

“We recognize Mille Lacs is a world-class bass fishery, and we’re committed to protecting it,” said Jones. “Now that we have a good estimate of the abundance of smallmouth bass, we look forward to working with Minnesota bass groups and the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee this summer to discuss potential long-term regulations.”

While Mille Lacs has long been known for walleye, the growth of the lake’s smallmouth bass population is a fairly recent phenomenon. During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, smallmouth started showing up in DNR assessments more frequently. And anglers were hooking more of them.

“When fishing pressure increased in the late 1990s, that’s when we decided to protect smallmouth bass,” Jones said. “We thought the population was fragile at the time.”

From 2000 to 2012, anglers on Mille Lacs were limited to one bass over 21 inches, and a very small number of fish were harvested each year. The DNR’s first assessment of Mille Lacs smallmouth bass in 1999 supported the decision to restrict harvest of smallmouth bass, but a 2009 assessment found smallmouth bass in much higher numbers and in a much wider portion of the lake.

Though anglers have been allowed to keep more bass since 2013, creel surveys indicate that interest in keeping bass is low. The average number of bass kept each year is about 2,800. In recent years, anglers have caught and released more than 125,000 bass.

“Based on the estimated number of smallmouth bass in the lake and the number that anglers catch each year, it’s clear that these fish are being caught more than once,” said Tom Heinrich, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Garrison. “The anglers who are releasing those bass are helping maintain the lake’s incredible bass fishery.”

Bass season on Mille Lacs opens Saturday, May 12. Prior to Saturday, May 26, all largemouth and smallmouth bass must be immediately released. Beginning May 26, the combined bass possession limit is three, with only one bass over 21 inches. All bass 17 to 21 inches must be immediately released.

More information about Mille Lacs Lake can be found at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

Discuss below - to view set the hook here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Boonie5
      We will be in there 2nd weekend & looking forward too it!     
    • Fish Head
      My cabin is very close to where your boat is in that pic.  It was 40 around there last weekend. Headed up again Thursday morning. 
    • bigeyes12
      Is anyone interested in pheasant hunting in SD in Mid or Late November?  I used to do more of it but kinda got busy with really young kids for a few years there and lost the dog around the same time. I basically gave it up for a while. I would like to start making a trip or two back out to SD and would really like to meeting some other guys who enjoy the sport.  It would be great to find a few new friends around the same age +/- 10 years and maybe some of the same interests in fishing and hunting. Live in the Twin Cities area so we could drive down if you are in the area or just meet out in SD sometime.  
    • creepworm
      I do not believe that is from Red. It shows sunny's under the smallest fish and according to the DNR, there are none in Red.
    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the main basin... As water temps approach mid 40's, walleye anglers reporting strong fall bite. Good fish caught despite a lot of precipitation this past week.  Clear weather in forecast.  Walleyes staging at various south shore locations in 20-29'.  Jig and frozen shiner the ticket. Anchor up and jig with gold, glow red, or gold/orange.  Fish are very active. On the Rainy River... Strong walleye activity continues.  Jig and frozen shiners continue to be go to method with some anglers also trolling crankbaits.  Shiner run has slowed for the moment but good numbers of walleyes in river.  Sturgeon have the feed bag on.  The sturgeon catch and release season goes though April 23, 2019.  The bite is on!     Up at the NW Angle... Fishing continues to be excellent.  Limits of walleyes being caught in 14 - 25'.  Jigging still producing.  Look for areas of current in neck down areas and outside of bays.  Fall crappie bite continues strong.  Big pike are making their presence felt, like it or not!  Muskie trollers boating and releasing good numbers of fish.  The best fall fishing is yet to come! 
    • leech~~
      Wow, it would be interesting to see if the big winners Cory, Justin and Dave all drove down from Canada together and where they hide the fish to get across the boarder?  🤔  😆
    • ozzie
      I am gonna go out on a limb here and say they did not catch a 15 pound walleye on Upper Red in MN.
    • bbfenatic
      Early ice I am always targeting big crappies not numbers and I always start shallower in the weeds that are still green and I use bigger profile spoons tipped with a minnow head or even a large plastic monnow profile. I find that the larger crappies will  move in for a short while and be feeding on the remaining minnows until they head back out. I fish in that 6-9" area with great results very early ice.
    • jgrimmz
      I'll be out second weekend in my traditional spot as well. Always see deer but I have yet to stick one. Hoping this is the year!
    • jgrimmz
      Wow, impressive! I was out in northern MN over the weekend and, while working on stands, flushed six. No shots as all were roosted high in the trees thanks to the rain, but made for some excitement at least.