Anglers and dark-house spearers on Mille Lacs Lake this winter will have northern pike regulations that continue to allow plentiful harvest of smaller pike from the lake, while continuing to protect large fish.
The only change from current regulations is a reduction in daily bag from 10 to 5, which is consistent with input received from the new Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee and other anglers.
“Northern pike are abundant in Mille Lacs Lake,” said Brad Parsons, central region fisheries manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “During the winter season that starts Tuesday, Dec. 1, regulations will be in effect that are meant to protect large pike while allowing a high harvest of smaller pike.”
The Mille Lacs northern pike bag limit is five, and only one may be longer than 30 inches. Additionally, an earn-a-trophy regulation requires the harvest and possession of two pike less than 30 inches long on the same day before taking a pike longer than 30 inches. These regulations apply to both anglers and spearers.
Anglers wishing to harvest a pike longer than 30 inches may not accept a pike shorter than 30 inches from another angler in order to fulfill the two-fish-under-30 requirement. However, anglers not harvesting pike longer than 30 inches may party fish for pike shorter than 30 inches.
Spearers may not party fish so each spearer must harvest two pike shorter than 30 inches before spearing a pike longer than 30 inches and cannot accept pike caught by another person in order to fulfill the requirement that two pike shorter than 30 inches be harvested first.
Spearing for pike on Mille Lacs ends Sunday, Feb. 28, at the same time that the statewide angling and spearing seasons end. The angling season on Mille Lacs is extended through Sunday, March 27, to allow more late-season fishing opportunity. As a reminder, permanent fish houses must be removed from Mille Lacs Lake by March 7.
“This fall is much warmer than last fall, which may delay ice formation on Mille Lacs and many other lakes,” Parsons said. “Be sure to check ice thickness before you go out and as you travel on early ice.”
Spearers are reminded to push their blocks of ice back into or under the ice surface. If blocks of ice are left on the ice, mark them with branches or other biodegradable materials that make the block visible to others. For safety, filled holes also should be marked.