Beginning today, Mille Lacs Lake is closed to walleye fishing for the month of July, with the anticipation of a fall walleye season ahead.
Working with local anglers and the community in March, the Department of Natural Resources determined a July closure would provide the best chance for walleye fishing this fall by reducing walleye mortality when water temperatures are the warmest.
“Even with the good walleye fishing Mille Lacs anglers have experienced this year, we have not exceeded our allocation and we don’t expect to,” said Brad Parsons, the DNR’s fisheries section manager. “We know many people really enjoy fall walleye fishing and we heard from folks that this was their priority. So we made plans this spring for the July closure to reduce the potential for an unplanned closure in the fall.”
In addition to not targeting walleye, Mille Lacs Lake anglers cannot use most live baits for any species in July. The exceptions are sucker minnows greater than 8 inches in length for targeting northern pike and muskellunge and wax worms for panfish and perch.
The closure and live bait ban is the result of record ice fishing pressure this past winter that resulted in a harvest of almost 30,000 pounds of walleye. July was selected for the closure because it’s generally the period when warm water temperatures cause the highest rates of hooking mortality.
An unplanned closure would be triggered if the state reaches its share of the safe harvest amount agreed upon by the state and eight Ojibwe nations that have treaty fishing rights on Mille Lacs. Through May 31, state-licensed anglers had harvested 34,718 pounds of their 87,800-pound walleye allocation for the 2020 season.
Catch-and-release walleye fishing is scheduled to re-open on Saturday, Aug. 1, and continue through Monday, Nov. 30.
Mille Lacs continues to offer anglers excellent northern pike, bass and muskellunge fishing.
More information on Mille Lacs Lake is available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.