"Minnesota’s popular warm weather stream trout season opens Saturday, April 17, 2021 with quality fishing opportunities in every region of the state. Brook trout and splake fishing also open April 17, 2021 on Lake Superior and its tributary streams.
Minnesota has some excellent trout fishing, and anglers help pay for trout habitat and access improvements with their fishing licenses and trout stamps. Anglers fishing on designated trout waters must have a trout stamp validation in addition to an angling license.
Use new DNR StreamFinder tool to find places to fish. Whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced trout angler, the DNR has new information on Minnesota’s trout streams and lakes available on its website.
Modeled after the DNR’s popular LakeFinder tool, StreamFinder provides anglers with a description, species list, regulations and access information for trout streams throughout Minnesota. Anglers also will find helpful learning guides and fishing tips tailored to each of Minnesota's six trout fishing regions. More details: Go to the >> MN DNR Trout Fishing Page
"Installing a fish finder is a manageable DIY job as long as you have a little know-how and some essential tools. And even if you're not up for the job, knowing what a proper installation looks like allows you to assess and troubleshoot your setup. Professional boat rigger Andy Kratochvil of Fishlectronics walks us through a detailed step-by-step fish finder installation covering everything from the initial unboxing and parts layout, transducer placement and mounting, to wiring up the head unit.
Although the featured graph is a Humminbird SOLIX, Andy's tips and tricks are aimed squarely at making your install smooth and technically correct regardless of your fish finder's make, model, new or used. He starts by ..." View Video and Learn More >> How to Install a Fish Finder | Pro Tips and Tricks for All Models
Early-season walleye anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be able to keep one walleye 21-23 inches long or one longer than 28 inches. Summer will bring catch-and-release walleye fishing, with a mid-season closure, before the potential for a one-fish limit returns in the fall.
“Lower walleye harvest this winter is allowing us to offer some open-water walleye harvest this year,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We’re glad Mille Lacs anglers will have the chance to keep a walleye on opening weekend and Memorial Day weekend — two of the most popular times to fish during the year. We also hope to be able to allow some harvest this fall.”
The one-fish walleye limit will be in place from Saturday, May 15, through Monday, May 31. Walleye fishing will be catch-and-release from Tuesday, June 1, through Wednesday, June 30. A two-week closure — implemented to reduce hooking mortality — will be in place from Thursday, July 1, through Thursday, July 15. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will resume on Friday, July 16, and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 15.
After opening weekend, fishing hours on Mille Lacs Lake will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all species. Beginning Saturday, June 5, muskellunge and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches can fish after 10 p.m.
The one-fish walleye limit is scheduled to resume Thursday, Sept. 16, through Tuesday, Nov. 30. During the late season, the DNR also will allow anglers to fish from 6 a.m. to midnight.
“Our projections strongly suggest that fall harvest can occur,” Parsons said. “However, predicting fishing pressure, catch rates and weather involves some uncertainty so we want people to recognize that the fall harvest will depend on how much of the state’s 2021 walleye allocation remains as we approach September. As always, we will monitor the factors that determine the state’s walleye take throughout the open water season.”
The state and the eight Chippewa bands that have treaty fishing rights agreed Mille Lacs could sustain a state harvest of up to 87,800 pounds of walleye this year, unchanged from 2020. During the 2020 season, state-licensed anglers took 66,748 pounds and tribal fishing took 33,113 pounds.
This year’s winter walleye harvest was about 16,000 pounds, about half of what it was in 2020. Lower catch rates for anglers, combined with fewer people fishing, caused harvest to return to normal levels after a big spike last year. That drop in walleye take gave the DNR more flexibility to implement a one-fish limit during the early season and plan one for the late season.
Even with the drop in winter harvest, a two-week closure during what’s normally one of the hottest times of the summer remains necessary to protect walleye. As water temperature increases, so does hooking mortality — the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released. Protecting walleye during this vulnerable period can allow for many weeks of harvest during cooler times of the year.
To help avoid incidental catch of walleye during the two-week closure, fishing for any species with certain kinds of bait will be restricted. Anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge can use sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. But anglers targeting other fish may not use live, dead, preserved or parts of minnows, night crawlers, worms, leeches or crayfish.
“Our goal with these regulations is to meet the state’s treaty obligations while also providing the best possible experience for anglers, recognizing that fishing and the anglers it brings are economically important to the Mille Lacs Lake area,” Parsons said.
More information about fishing regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, ongoing DNR management and research, citizen engagement, and Mille Lacs-area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website.
The new regulations lower limits on specific waters as part of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources initiative to protect and improve sunfish sizes. These changes are in response to angler-driven concerns over the declining sizes of sunfish in Minnesota.
“Robust public input and support helped us move forward with the Quality Sunfish Initiative. We had more than 3,700 comments and over 85% of them were in favor of trying to improve sunfish sizes,” said Dave Weitzel, Grand Rapids area fisheries supervisor. “It’s clear Minnesota anglers treasure sunfish and want to make sure we have lots of large sunfish in our lakes.”
The new regulations only modify daily limits on the affected waterbodies. Anglers can only keep the prescribed number of fish per day from the water but can return the next day for another limit as long as they don’t exceed the statewide inland water possession limit of 20 sunfish per angler.
The new sunfish regulations only include inland waters of Minnesota. Specifically, 44 waters will have a new daily limit of five sunfish, 31 will have a limit of 10 sunfish, 17 will have a limit of five sunfish and five crappie, and two will have a limit of 10 sunfish and five crappies.
In addition to the new waters, there are 57 waters that previously had reduced limits for sunfish and these regulations remain in effect.
“We’ve evaluated previous special sunfish regulations and found that reducing harvest can indeed produce large sunfish,” Weitzel said. “Sunfish grow slowly—about an inch per year—so a large sunfish can be more than a decade old. It’s critical to protect these large fish from excessive harvest because they aren’t easily replaced.”
Sunfish spawn in large nesting colonies during the spring and early summer. Parental male sunfish build and defend nests. Females will select a male, lay eggs, and leave the eggs for the male to protect and fan with his fins. These nest-building male sunfish play an important role in repopulation, with the largest sunfish often getting the best spawning sites.
When anglers keep the largest sunfish, the remaining small males don’t need to compete with larger males to spawn. Once the larger males are gone, the smaller males devote less energy to growing. Instead, they devote energy to spawning at younger ages and smaller sizes.
Minnesota fishing regulations use sunfish as the generic name for bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish, longear, warmouth and their hybrids. More about sunfish biology and the Quality Sunfish Initiative is available on the DNR website.
Other fishing regulation changes in the 2021 regulations book include new experimental regulations on Island Lake Reservoir near Duluth. On this lake, which has abundant but very small walleye, fisheries managers aim to increase the size of walleye by increasing the possession limit and applying a protective slot limit.
New experimental lake trout regulations also are being implemented in Yawkey, Sagamore, Pennington and Mahnomen lakes. These mine pit lakes in Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area have the potential to support naturally reproducing lake trout populations. Anglers there will be limited to harvesting one lake trout, which must be more than 20 inches, from each water.
Experimental regulations mean that the regulation is temporary. Fisheries managers must then evaluate the regulation to determine whether it had the intended effect, usually after 10 years.
The 2021 Minnesota fishing regulations are available online and anywhere Minnesota fishing licenses are sold. The new sunfish regulations are found in the special regulations that begin on page 38 of the booklet.
Minnesotans can learn about and comment on fisheries management goals and objectives proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for Mille Lacs Lake.
Public review of a five-year lake management plan is taking place now through Friday, April 2. Members of the public can comment via an online survey or during an online public meeting scheduled from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, Mar. 23. Visit the Mille Lacs Lake webpage for links to the draft management plan and meeting registration information.
The draft plan for Mille Lacs Lake includes species-specific goals for walleye, northern pike and bass. It also acknowledges the DNR’s commitment and obligation to share harvest with eight Ojibwe bands within the 1837 ceded territory and has goals for involving the public and the local community in lake management.
“Mille Lacs Lake is an important fishery resource,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Given that importance, it’s essential to have a long term comprehensive fisheries management plan based in sound science and public input, similar to our planning for other large lakes.”
During the March 23 public meeting, DNR staff will give a presentation summarizing the draft plan, answer questions and take written and spoken comments. Those who wish to speak can select that option when they register for the meeting. Participants who attend the meeting may also respond to the online survey.
In 2019, the DNR collected public input on what is important to people about Mille Lacs Lake, its fish, the activities that take them to the lake and the area's communities. The DNR carefully considered that in developing the draft management plan on which the DNR is now seeking comments.
"Winter anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will enjoy a walleye harvest this winter for the fifth season in a row. Starting Tuesday, Dec. 1, anglers will be allowed to keep one walleye between 21-23 inches or one fish longer than 28 inches. This is the same regulation as the last two winter seasons.
“It’s good news that anglers will be able to harvest walleye again this winter,” said Sarah Strommen, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Conservative management continues to sustain good fishing on Mille Lacs.”
Mille Lacs was a popular ice fishing destination during the winter of 2019-2020, in part due to poor ice conditions on other large Minnesota lakes. Anglers put in a record of more than 3 million fishing hours on the lake last winter. In each of the previous three winters, anglers spent about 2 million hours fishing on Mille Lacs.
“We want to provide anglers the opportunity to catch and keep some fish when the walleye population can support it,” said Brad Parsons, DNR fisheries section manager. “As in recent winters, we’re confident that the walleye population is abundant enough to support some harvest.”
Winter regulations are set after the DNR completes its annual fall netting assessment. The DNR’s 2020 assessment found that the walleye population has remained relatively stable over the past four years, having rebounded from population lows seen from 2012 to 2016.
Harvest from the winter of 2020-21 will be counted toward the state’s annual share of walleye from Mille Lacs under the 1837 treaty. State anglers share harvest with eight Ojibwe tribes that have fishing rights under the treaty.
The state’s allowable harvest for the coming year will be set in early 2021 through discussions between the state and the tribes. The DNR will set open water fishing regulations in March 2021 following discussions with the tribes and the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee and after the conclusion of winter fishing.
Conservative fishing regulations in response to population lows have contributed to the recovery, allowing the DNR to offer anglers a harvest opportunity in recent winters and in May 2019 during the open water fishing season.
Insights from fall assessments
While encouraged by the rebound in walleye abundance, the DNR is taking a cautious approach to managing Mille Lacs’ walleye fishery. Survival of walleye to age 3 and older has been inconsistent in recent years.
The 2013 year class – that is, fish born in 2013 -- continues to be the most abundant class of fish. These fish are mainly 17-21 inches long, with faster growing individuals exceeding 21 inches. Year classes from 2009 to 2012 were weak, and had low numbers grow to adults, while those produced since 2013 have had more fish survive to adulthood.
The 2014 year class is below average compared with those from the last 15 years. The 2015 and 2016 year classes appear close to average, and the 2017 year class is well above average. Since 2008, only the 2013 and 2017 year classes have been above average.
“We are encouraged to see additional year classes that will be contributing to the fishery,” Parsons said. “Having multiple year classes approaching maturity makes us comfortable with continuing to harvest some of the 2013 year class under this winter’s regulation.”
The assessment also looks at food abundance and walleye health. Perch and tullibee are the primary food source for Mille Lacs’ walleye. Perch and tullibee from 0 to 2 years old were caught in moderate numbers.
Walleye condition, often referred to as plumpness, remained lower than recent averages. The relatively thin condition of fish suggest that forage was limited during parts of this year.
That lack of food contributed to the high catch rates in Mille Lacs early this summer. But that rate dropped in August and September, suggesting that the availability of forage improved later in the summer as fish hatched in 2020 grew and became a part of walleye diets.
“A lower catch rate in the late summer can sometimes carry over into the winter if forage is abundant,” Parsons said. “But predators also can reduce available forage later in the winter, possibly leading to an improved bite.”
Information about Mille Lacs Lake, including complete fishing regulations, is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake."
"Anglers fishing during the winter season on Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota will have a three-walleye bag limit, with only one walleye longer than 17 inches allowed.
Heavy winter fishing over the last four years necessitated more restrictive regulations. Winter angling on Upper Red Lake averaged 1.6 million angler hours with a harvest of 130,000 pounds annually over this period. The new regulations, which become effective Sunday, Nov. 1, lower the possession limit from the four-walleye limits in place during the 2020 open water season and the 2019-2020 winter season.
“Anglers should remember to bring a good measuring device along with them on their trip to Upper Red Lake,” said Andy Thompson, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Many walleye will measure just above, and just under, the 17-inch size restriction.”
The Red Lake Nation and the Minnesota DNR manage walleye harvest on Red Lake under a joint harvest plan that the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee revised in 2015.
The DNR will determine next year’s open water harvest regulations after the winter fishing season. An Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee reviews walleye harvest totals and regulation options and provides recommendations for regulations for the state waters of Upper Red Lake.
Upper Red Lake fishing regulations are available at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing."
"Beginning July 1, 2020, Mille Lacs Lake is closed to walleye fishing for the month of July, with the anticipation of a fall walleye season ahead.
Working with local anglers and the community in March, the Department of Natural Resources determined a July closure would provide the best chance for walleye fishing this fall by reducing walleye mortality when water temperatures are the warmest.
“Even with the good walleye fishing Mille Lacs anglers have experienced this year, we have not exceeded our allocation and we don’t expect to,” said Brad Parsons, the DNR’s fisheries section manager. “We know many people really enjoy fall walleye fishing and we heard from folks that this was their priority. So we made plans this spring for the July closure to reduce the potential for an unplanned closure in the fall.”
In addition to not targeting walleye, Mille Lacs Lake anglers cannot use most live baits for any species in July. The exceptions are sucker minnows greater than 8 inches in length for targeting northern pike and muskellunge and wax worms for panfish and perch.
The closure and live bait ban is the result of record ice fishing pressure this past winter that resulted in a harvest of almost 30,000 pounds of walleye. July was selected for the closure because it’s generally the period when warm water temperatures cause the highest rates of hooking mortality.
An unplanned closure would be triggered if the state reaches its share of the safe harvest amount agreed upon by the state and eight Ojibwe nations that have treaty fishing rights on Mille Lacs. Through May 31, state-licensed anglers had harvested 34,718 pounds of their 87,800-pound walleye allocation for the 2020 season.
Catch-and-release walleye fishing is scheduled to re-open on Saturday, Aug. 1, and continue through Monday, Nov. 30.
Mille Lacs continues to offer anglers excellent northern pike, bass and muskellunge fishing.
More information on Mille Lacs Lake is available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will reopen its campgrounds at state parks, state forests and recreation areas in a phased approach beginning June 1. Gov. Tim Walz announced that public and private campgrounds may reopen beginning June 1, if they create a Preparedness Plan and follow State of Minnesota campground guidelines.
“We look forward to welcoming overnight visitors back to DNR-managed camping and lodging facilities in June,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Our staff are already out conducting assessments of campsite conditions and preparing to receive visitors. We will open as much as we can on June 1, but this will be a phased process based on staffing and safety considerations.”
State parks and recreation areas are like small cities that need to have all of their infrastructure restarted in order to reopen. This includes water, sewer, power, roads, trails and buildings. During the Stay at Home Order, the DNR limited its on-site parks and trails workforce to only those employees most critical to support day-use activities, to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and allow time for critical public health preparations across Minnesota. While this was necessary to protect public health, as a result, the DNR now has a lot of work left to do to ready campgrounds and lodging for overnight visitors.
While more details will be available in the coming weeks, the DNR generally plans to open sites as soon as they are ready. Dispersed camping in state forests is already allowed, and we anticipate the following general timeline going forward:
• May 22: The DNR will open 75 remote campsites in state parks for use on Memorial Day weekend, most of which had existing reservations. Another 80 remote sites are expected to be ready by May 29.
• June 1: The DNR anticipates having about 20-30 of its campgrounds within state parks, recreation areas and forest campgrounds ready to open, with limited services. Some lodging options, such as camper cabins and yurts, will also open on June 1. In general, visitors can expect that water systems will be turned on, grounds will be maintained, and vault toilets/porta-toilets will be available. However, some value-added services may not be ready or available at that point, such as showers and contact/ranger stations.
• June 8: The DNR will reopen another 20-30 campgrounds and lodging facilities, the rest of its remote campsites, and many of its contact/ranger stations.
• June 15: The DNR plans to have the rest of the campgrounds open and most areas with full services. The Mary Gibbs Café at Itasca State Park, some nature stores, and ancillary buildings, such as fish cleaning facilities and picnic shelters with reduced capacities, will be reopened where possible.
Campers should come prepared with their own hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, paper towels, toilet paper and other supplies for use at their campsites and available bathrooms.
The DNR will leave the following facilities and amenities closed until further notice: beaches, pond-pools, housekeeping cabins, visitor centers, group centers, fire towers, large-group facilities (such as amphitheaters), group tours and other scheduled interpretive programs.
Minnesotans are encouraged to use the following guidelines to minimize potential points of virus transmission:
• Travel as directly to destination as possible, and minimize stops along the way.
• Attempt to bring all needed supplies with you.
• If you do need to stop for gas or supplies, wear a cloth face covering.
• Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching common surfaces (gas pumps, door handles, shared bathrooms, etc.).
• Do not travel if sick.
Visitors are advised to check the DNR’s COVID-19 website for the latest information about facility status and reopening timelines.
Walleye angling on Mille Lacs Lake will be catch-and-release only for this year’s open water season, with the exception of the month of July, when walleye fishing will be closed.
Additionally, anglers will not be allowed to use live bait for any species in July, except sucker minnows greater than 8 inches in length for targeting northern pike and muskellunge.
The new walleye rule is among several regulations changes this year. Bass and northern pike also have new regulations.
The restrictive walleye rule for the open water season is due in part to a record ice fishing season on Mille Lacs this winter.
Poor ice conditions on other lakes focused attention on Mille Lacs, resulting in the highest fishing pressure there in 30 years: almost 30,000 pounds of harvest. This leaves only 57,800 pounds available for the state’s open water season under the safe harvest level established for 2020 by the state and the eight Chippewa bands that have treaty fishing rights.
“We know any summer walleye closure is disappointing, but anglers have told us they prefer a planned temporary closure in July to an unplanned one later in the season,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The addition of the live bait ban allows for the shortest closure to ensure we remain within the set allocation and support the long-term interest of the walleye fishery.”
Walleye are particularly vulnerable in July because, as water temperature increases, so too does “hooking mortality”—the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released. By implementing fishing restrictions when walleye are most vulnerable, and reducing angler take, anglers could potentially gain two months or more of late-summer and fall fishing.
Walleye season opens on Saturday, May 9, and continues through Monday, Nov. 30.
Mille Lacs also is a destination for quality bass, northern pike, and muskellunge fishing.
The DNR heard good support for these bass and pike changes.
“People who come to Mille Lacs for smallmouth and northern pike are hoping to catch a real trophy,” Parsons said.
More information about fishing regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, ongoing DNR management and research, and Mille Lacs-area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website.
More Recent Reports
Anglers will find a variety of changes in the 2020 Minnesota fishing regulations booklet, including new possession and length limits on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters of the Mississippi River. This is the first comprehensive update of regulations on the Mississippi River border waters in nearly 70 years.
The new border waters possession and length limits for most gamefish species went into effect March 1, and were developed based on decades of biological data, as well as substantial public input during 2018 and 2019.
“We've heard positive feedback about the changes from anglers who care a great deal about sustaining the high quality fish populations and the fishing opportunities on these Mississippi River border waters,” said Kevin Stauffer, the Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor in Lake City.
The new regulations for the Mississippi River border waters and Lake Pepin include lower possession limits, and changes to some length limits, for walleye and sauger, northern pike, channel and flathead catfish, shovelnose sturgeon, crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, and white and yellow bass.
The changes are proactive measures that will help both states manage the effects that changing river conditions, invasive species and increased angling effectiveness have on fish. Wisconsin has approved identical regulations that will go into effect April 1. Some examples include:
With the exception of minimum size limits for bass (14 inches) and walleye (15 inches) implemented in 1990, possession and size restrictions for gamefish on the Minnesota and Wisconsin border waters of the Mississippi River had been largely unchanged for the last seven decades.
Special regulations modified for several Minnesota lakes
Dropped Special Regulations
The new 2020 Minnesota fishing regulations are available online and anywhere Minnesota fishing licenses are sold.
“A joint committee of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists and fisheries biologists from the eight Chippewa bands that retain fishing rights under terms of an 1837 treaty reached agreement on the 2020 Mille Lacs Lake safe harvest level for walleye.
The committee established those levels on Jan. 22, setting the walleye safe harvest level at 150,000 pounds, the same as last year.
State-licensed anglers can harvest 87,800 pounds of walleye during the 2019-2020 ice fishing season and the 2020 open-water season. Tribal fishing is subject to a 62,200-pound limit during the same period.
“The amount of walleye we can safely harvest from Mille Lacs remains the same as last year,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the DNR.
Open water walleye regulations will need to consider this winter’s harvest and the expected conditions during spring and summer. That work will occur during the next six weeks as winter walleye fishing comes to an end on Mille Lacs. The DNR will announce open-water fishing regulations for Mille Lacs Lake in late March.
Additional information about Mille Lacs Lake is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake."
Anglers fishing during the winter season on Upper Red Lake will have a four-walleye bag limit, with only one walleye longer than 17 inches allowed.
The regulations, which become effective Sunday, Dec. 1, are the same as those of last winter but more restrictive than during 2019 open water fishing.
“Anglers should remember to take a good measuring device along with them on their trip to Upper Red Lake as many walleye will measure just above, and just under, the 17-inch size restriction,” said Andy Thompson, Department of Natural Resources area fisheries supervisor.
More restrictive winter regulations are necessary because of the amount of fishing pressure during the winter. Anglers spent 1.9 million hours fishing on Red Lake during the winter of 2018-19, significantly higher than the 178,000 hours they spent open water fishing in 2019. Those anglers harvested 293,000 pounds of walleye during the summer and winter of 2019 – a record high for annual harvest since walleye fishing resumed on the lake in 2006.
The Red Lake Nation and the DNR manage walleye harvest on Red Lake under a joint harvest plan that was revised in 2015 by the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee.
Next year’s open water harvest regulations will be determined following the conclusion of the winter fishing season. An Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee reviews walleye harvest totals and regulation options and provides recommendations for regulations for the state waters of Upper Red Lake.
Upper Red Lake fishing regulations are available at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.
“Population trends support harvest during ice fishing season
Winter anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will enjoy a walleye harvest this winter for the fourth season in a row, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Similar to last season, anglers will be allowed to keep walleye on Mille Lacs starting Sunday, Dec. 1, with a limit of one walleye between 21-23 inches, or one fish over 28 inches.
“It’s good news that anglers will be able to harvest walleye again this winter,” said Sarah Strommen, DNR commissioner. “We’re encouraged to see evidence that our conservative approach to Mille Lacs is paying off, allowing continued walleye angling opportunities on this renowned fishing lake.”
Anglers are expected to make Mille Lacs a destination this coming winter. Under very similar regulations, anglers spent about 2 million hours fishing on Mille Lacs each of the last three winters.
“When the walleye population can support it, we want to provide anglers the opportunity to harvest some fish,” said Brad Parsons, DNR fisheries section manager. “As in recent winters, we’re confident that the walleye population is healthy enough to support some harvest.”
“We expect the walleye bite to be quite good on Mille Lacs this winter, which will likely result in a lot of fishing pressure and a relatively high harvest,” Parsons said. “Feedback from our advisory committee and the community has consistently been that a fish in the winter is the first priority for harvest.”
“If high catch rates continue this winter, harvest may exceed the 15,000 pounds of walleye taken last winter. This may also directly affect open water angling opportunities,” Parsons added.
Harvest from the winter of 2019-20 will be counted toward the state’s annual share of walleye from Mille Lacs under the 1837 treaty. State anglers share the safe harvest level with eight Chippewa tribes that have fishing rights under the treaty. The state’s allowable harvest for the coming year will be set in early 2020 through discussions between the state and the tribes.
Winter regulations are set after completion of the DNR’s annual fall netting assessment of the lake. The DNR’s 2019 assessment found that the walleye population has remained relatively stable over the past three years, having rebounded from population lows seen from 2012 – 2016.
Conservative fishing regulations in response to the population lows have contributed to the recovery, and allowed the DNR to offer a harvest opportunity in recent winters as well as in May 2019 during the open water fishing season.
While encouraged by the rebound in walleye abundance, the DNR continues to take a cautious approach to managing the fishery. Survival of walleye to age 3 and older has been inconsistent in recent years. The fish hatched six years ago – referred to as the 2013 year class – are now 17-21 inches and continue to dominate the population, accounting for about 40 percent of the fish caught in fall test netting. Year classes formed since 2013 show mixed results.
Numbers of walleye from the 2014 and 2015 year classes remain below the 15-year average. The 2016 year class appears close to average, while the 2017 year class, now between 12 and 14 inches in length, is above average in abundance. The size of the 2017 year class is significant because since 2008, only the 2013 year class had been average-or-above.
“We are encouraged to see additional year classes that will contribute to the fishery in the future,” Parsons said. “Having multiple year classes approaching maturity makes us more comfortable with starting to harvest some of the 2013 year-class under this winter’s regulation.”
The assessment also looks at food abundance and walleye health. Perch and tullibee are the primary food source for Mille Lacs’ walleye. Perch and tullibee from 0 to 2 years old were caught in moderate numbers.
Walleye condition, or “plumpness,” remained lower than recent averages. The relatively thin condition of fish suggest that forage was limited during parts of this year. This contributed to the high catch rates in Mille Lacs this summer. Limited forage usually results in a good walleye bite because there is less food available for fish to eat, making an angler’s bait all the more attractive.
Complete winter fishing regulations for Mille Lacs Lake is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake"
All too often, anglers encounter lakes that have enormous populations of stunted Pike where catching a "quality fish" could earn you a lifetime achievement award. Try to swim a lure through these legions of small Pike and it’s easy to see how they would raise the ire of anyone hoping to attract the attention of more worthy combatants.
Snakes, scissors bills, slimes and a host of other even less flattering nicknames get thrown around on nearly every fishing trip.
But in my travels as a full time fishing guide, I have seen strange transformations occur whenever someone catches ..." Read >> The Quest For Quality Pike
Q) When I'm fishing with kids, can they have their own limit of fish in addition to mine?
A) Nonresidents age 16 and older are required to have an appropriate fishing license while angling. Non residents under age 16 do not need a license if the parent or guardian is licensed. Children of an adult who has a Minnesota Nonresident Family License may possess their own limit of fish.
However, if the adult has only an Individual License or if the parents have a Husband and Wife License, then the child’s fish are included in the adult’s limit. Nonresidents under age 16 may purchase a nonresident youth license and possess their own limit of fish.
Minnesota Residents under age 16 may take fish without a license. The statute does not state explicitly that under age residents my possess their own limit of fish. But the legislators use of the phrase "take fish" implies that the kids are entitled to their own limit.
*See a complete, Printable PDF >> Minnesota Statutes 97A.451 License Requirements and Exemptions Relating To Age
"The Early Bird Fishing Guide" Jeff Sundin - Fishing Blue Books, LLC 715 Byington Ave, LaPrairie, MN 55744 218-245-9858
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