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Whether smallmouth bass harvest regulations on Mille Lacs will change is less certain. An attempt last year by the DNR to encourage their harvest by anglers largely failed, in part because the fish traditionally aren’t prized as table fare.
Still, “everything’s on the table,’’ Pereira said.
Other possibilities include extending the springtime night fishing ban to slow the walleye harvest.
The lake also could be reopened to northern pike spearing, in an attempt to reduce their numbers, Pereira said.
“I don’t see why I wouldn’t put northern spearing on the table for consideration,’’ Pereira said. “It might be a good thing for the local economy.’’
Meanwhile, Pereira said tribal officials will encourage band members to spear more and net less this spring. Spearing would allow band members to target the lake’s larger walleyes.
Officials note that while a 60,000-pound Mille Lacs walleye quota is a record low, actual harvests in some years have come in almost as low. In 2003, for example, state anglers took only 66,492 pounds of walleye.
However, in some recent years the numbers have been far larger.
In 2006 and 2007, more than 462,000 pounds were taken, and as recently as 2011 the lake yielded 230,000 pounds.
The size and number of walleyes that anglers will be allowed to keep in the coming season won’t be determined until later this month, after DNR fisheries managers meet with Mille Lacs area resort operators and other business owners.
Pereira said the Mille Lacs walleye bag and size limits likely will be similar to last year, when anglers were restricted to two walleyes between 18 and 20 inches.
State-regulated hook-and-line anglers will get 42,900 pounds of the quota; 17,100 pounds will be reserved for the eight Minnesota and Wisconsin Chippewa bands that net the lake in spring.
Last year, nonband anglers were allocated 178,750 pounds.
Staff writer Dennis Anderson contributed to this report.
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