Depending on the kind of tagged fish anglers catch on Mille Lacs Lake, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will send either a free lure or the story of the fish caught.
Anglers who catch a walleye with an orange tag will receive a free lure. Those who catch a walleye or northern pike with a yellow tag will receive information about the known history of the tagged fish they caught.
The tagging and return effort is part of a broad effort to better understand the lake’s walleye and northern pike populations.
Orange tags are labeled “REWARD.” Anglers who catch a walleye with such a tag should remove it from the fish, even if the fish is released. Tags should be returned to DNR Fisheries, 1200 Minnesota Ave. S., Aitkin, MN 56431. Include the date of the catch and the length of the fish. A fishing lure will be mailed in return.
Tag return boxes also will be available at several businesses around the lake, or anglers can simply mail them to the address above, which is also posted at the boat accesses.
“Anglers who return their tags are doing all Mille Lacs anglers a favor,” said Rick Bruesewitz, DNR’s Aitkin area fisheries supervisor. “The higher the tag returns the higher the data reliability…and that’s what you want when managing an asset as valuable as Mille Lacs.”
When anglers return information from a walleye or northern with a yellow tag, they’ll receive information about when the fish was tagged, where the fish was when it was captured for tagging and how big the fish was at tagging. Yellow tags should remain on the fish if it is released.
“Some of the larger, older fish with yellow tags can have a pretty interesting history,” Bruesewitz said. “Some of these fish will have been caught six to eight times and we’ve recorded information about that fish each time it’s been captured.”
More information about reporting a tagged fish is available on the DNR website.