Spurred by concerns over a falling walleye population, state and tribal officials have cut in half the safe harvest level for Lake Mille Lacs for 2013.
That almost certainly means much more restrictive walleye regulations for anglers next spring.
“We want to be very cautious,’’ said Tom Jones, Department of Natural Resources large lake specialist. “We are definitely in a spot we’ve never been before.’’
The total walleye harvest for the lake, the most popular walleye fishery in the state, is being trimmed from 500,000 pounds last year to 250,000 pounds this year. The quota for anglers will be 178,750 pounds, and for Chippewa band members 71,250 pounds— both half their 2012 quotas.
Officials aren’t sure why the walleye population, especially the smaller male fish, is declining. Biologists suspect predation by increased numbers of smallmouth bass, northerns and larger walleyes might be one factor.