Anglers on Lake Mille Lacs will have an opportunity to keep some walleye during the open-water fishing season this year. This follows several seasons of catch-and-release fishing on the lake.

Last year, state anglers stayed well under the lake’s safe-harvest allocation for walleyes. With an improving walleye population, the Department of Natural Resources will allow some walleye harvest when the season opens Saturday, May 11.

The DNR will announce the Mille Lacs walleye regulations for the upcoming season in mid-March.

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State and bands agree on safe harvest level

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“We’re happy to announce that, with some very conservative fishing regulations over the past three years, walleye are now at a level where we can cautiously allow anglers to start keeping some fish during the open-water season,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen.

“This is good news for anglers, Mille Lacs area businesses and the resource,” Strommen added. “I want to thank the bands for their ongoing collaboration and the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee for its continued input and discussions with the DNR in managing the walleye fishery on Mille Lacs.”

The DNR is considering allowing the walleye harvest during the cool-water periods in the spring and fall. The agency is exploring a variety of regulation options and will be discussing the alternatives with the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee, a group of local businesses, fishing experts and community leaders that help advise the agency on Mille Lacs fishing regulations and other issues.

The state and the bands recently agreed on a safe harvest level of 150,000 pounds of walleye, which provides a state allocation of 87,800 pounds. Under the catch-and-release only regulation last year, walleye angler kill totaled just over 47,000 pounds.

“While the walleye population is on a positive trajectory, we need to strike a careful balance between expanding harvest opportunities and conserving the fishery for future angling opportunities,” said Brad Parsons, DNR fisheries chief.