Mille Lacs Lake anglers may fish at night beginning Monday, July 21 at 10 p.m., according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“We’re pleased we can open the lake to night fishing,” said Brad Parsons, central region fisheries manager for the DNR. “Evening and night launches can resume operation, and boats can travel and fish at night. In addition to walleye, anglers can again seek muskellunge and bow fish during prime nighttime hours.”
In past years, the Mille Lacs Lake night closure, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., began the Monday after the May opener and continued through mid-June. This year’s regulations extended the closure to Dec. 1 to help ensure state-licensed anglers did not catch more walleye than the lake’s safe harvest limit allowed. If that limit was reached, anglers would have had to release all walleye instead of being allowed to keep two. The possession limit is two fish 18- to 20-inches. One fish may be longer than 28 inches.
“So far, anglers have caught about 10,000 pounds of walleye,” Parsons said. “That number will increase once night fishing resumes, but catch rates have been low enough to alleviate concerns that anglers will catch more than the 42,900 pounds of walleye the harvest limit allows.”
Anglers have caught fewer walleye because walleye are feeding on an abundance of perch in Mille Lacs this year and reduced fishing pressure. Cool temperatures and rain have kept the water temperatures down, which lowers mortality of released fish. Fish are more likely to die after being released in warmer water even if properly handled.
“The DNR is not removing the night closure because Mille Lacs Lake has recovered,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief. “More young walleye still need to survive their first year and keep growing from year to year into larger walleye. Conditions this year combined for a slow bite, allowing DNR to re-open an activity that helps the Mille Lacs area economy and is a tradition among many fishing families.”