Change will protect large fish and harvest opportunity
Anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be able to keep three bass starting Saturday, May 27, when the bass harvest season begins. Catch-and-release bass fishing opens the same day as the walleye and northern pike fishing opener on Saturday, May 13.
“It’s no secret that Mille Lacs is a nationwide destination for smallmouth bass fishing,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief. “Knowing that we have something special here, we’re proceeding with caution and dropping the possession limit from four to three, which is a good balance between desire to harvest fish and preserving the trophy-sized bass that have made Mille Lacs famous.”
Anglers can keep three bass in any combination of smallmouth and largemouth. All bass 17-21 inches must be immediately released, with only one bass over 21 inches allowed to be kept. Mille Lacs’ exemption to the statewide fall and winter closure of the smallmouth bass season remains, meaning that anglers may keep up to three smallmouth bass on Mille Lacs through Sunday, Feb. 28, 2018.
“We know some anglers are concerned with protecting bass through tight restrictions. We agree with proceeding cautiously, encouraging more catch-and-release fishing while also recognizing that some anglers may expect the occasional fish dinner,” Pereira said.
Bass in Mille Lacs grow fast relative to most populations in the state. The DNR plans an intensive tagging study this year to learn more about bass populations and how they are affected by anglers.
“We think the lake’s bass harvest is sustainable from a biological standpoint, based on our angler surveys,” Pereira said. “There is some uncertainty in the abundance of bass in Mille Lacs, and the tagging study this year will tell us more.”
Learn more about bass fishing on Mille Lacs Lake on the Mille Lacs page.