After announcing last week that there will be, after all, an ice fishing season on Mille Lacs this year (following the early closing of the summer season due to pressure on the walleye population), the DNR has set the winter limit:
One walleye, between 18 and 20 inches, or over 28 inches. This is down from two walleye last winter.
And ice anglers can keep five northern pike from Mille Lacs this winter, down from 10 last winter.
Officials will monitor the situation and could require catch and release later in the season, if the catch approaches the quota of 5,000 pounds. Last year, they say 3,100 pounds of walleye were caught during the ice fishing season.
There was much angst amongst anglers and local businesses when the summer season was closed early in August, and much relief when word came that there will be a winter season.
The next big question: What will next summer’s limits and quotas be? That will be announced early next year.
DNR officials say they expect that the current restrictions will help restore the walleye population, which had made the central Minnesota lake a prime fishing destination.
From a DNR FAQ page from last summer:
Q: Is there hope for the fishery to recover?
A: Despite this year’s low walleye population, DNR fishery surveys have shown this year that there may be good news on the horizon. Biologists are seeing a large population of young walleyes hatched in 2013. Walleyes in that group are currently 10 to 13 inches long. It is important to protect those fish so they can contribute to future angling success and walleye production.