Catch and Release Only For Mille Lacs Walleyes During the 2024 Summer Season

Posted by Will Allen on 13th Mar 2024

Catch and Release Only For Mille Lacs Walleyes During the 2024 Summer Season

The Minnesota DNR just released the 2024 Mille Lacs summer walleye regulations and anglers who like to put a fish in the livewell once in a while won’t like the news. Mille Lacs will be catch and release only for all walleyes during the spring and summer season until August 16, 2024. At that point, Mille Lacs anglers may keep one walleye from 21” to 23” per day.

According to Minnesota DNR Fisheries Section Manager Brad Parsons, the bite was very good throughout the fall of 2023 and during the 2023-24 ice season, despite poor ice conditions. He attributes this to not enough forage for the fish in the lake. To put it simply, the fish in the lake are eager to bite because they’re hungry.

Good to excellent walleye fishing is expected on Mille Lacs during the open water season, which begins May 11th and ends November 30th.

The 2023 lake assessment found a slightly smaller population than the 2022 assessment but the population remains strong thanks to excellent recruitment in the 2013-2017 year classes. The 2021 and 2022 year classes were also good and will contribute to the catch in the future.

The same lake assessments found lower populations of yellow perch and tullibee. These species make up the majority of the forage base for Mille Lacs walleyes. With less available food, Parsons says it’s natural that predator fish will be more prone to respond aggressively to fishing lures. This is something that the DNR is factoring into their decision to cut off harvest on Mille Lacs during the spring and early summer season.

Since the introduction of zebra mussels, the lake has continued to evolve. Increased water clarity, zebra mussels, and the spiny water flea have decreased the level of microscopic food for forage species and have decreased the population.

State-licensed anglers share the Mille Lacs walleye harvest with the Ojibwa tribes that retain fishing rights by treaty. The state and the tribe manage the harvest on the lake and have agreed to drop the overall walleye harvest by 10% in 2024. The state-licensed harvest level is 91,500 pounds and the tribal harvest is set at 65,500 for this year.

Regulations for the 2024-25 ice season will be released later this year. For more information on Mille Lacs fishing regulations visit the Minnesota DNR website

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