Night fishing on Mille Lacs reopened Monday, and a number of launches ran trips from 8 p.m. to midnight, rather than the 6 p.m.-10 p.m. trips they were offering this summer.
The earlier trips were required because the Department of Natural Resources imposed a ban on boats with angling gear being on Mille Lacs this summer from 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The intent was to conserve the lake’s stressed walleye population by reducing the number of hours anglers could fish the lake. The most productive walleye bite on Mille Lacs traditionally occurs during sunrise or sunset, or at night.
But the DNR’s Mille Lacs walleye harvest estimate for June was the lowest on record, as was the lake’s fishing pressure. Consequently, the DNR on Monday reopened night angling on Mille Lacs, believing it highly unlikely now the sportfishing walleye quota on the lake of 42,900 pounds will be met this year.
“We offered an 8 p.m. to midnight launch Monday and had 24 people on it,’’ said Linda Eno of Twin Pines Resort. “And I’m booking a number of people for the same trip the rest of this week.’’
Some walleyes were caught, Eno said, but fishing generally was slow. Action will vary night to night, as launch captains try different fishing destinations.
“When they had to be back at the dock by 10, they had to quit fishing at 9:30 or so, so they couldn’t go as far onto the lake,’’ Eno said.
Eno also said she booked her first muskie angler of the season into their resort, a first for the summer.
“That’s because the night ban is off,’’ she said. “Muskie fishermen like to fish at night.’’
Garrison Sports, which offers up to three launches a day, also ran an 8 p.m.-midnight launch, experiencing so-so walleye fishing with nine anglers aboard.
Greg Erickson said he didn’t expect walleye fishing to pick up until perhaps fall.
“But we’ve been doing well on the launches fishing for northern pike,’’ he said.
Garrison Sports launches have taken five northerns 41 inches or longer on Mille Lacs, and “eight or 10’’ between 40 and 41 inches..
Mille Lacs launches generally charge $35 per angler, with equipment and bait provided. Anglers provide their own beverages and snacks.