Anderson: Harvest numbers up, regulations on Mille Lacs to stay the same

  • Updated: July 9, 2013 - 10:06 PM

Rumors floated at Mille Lacs recently suggested the Department of Natural Resources might expand the lake’s 2-inch walleye harvest slot, liberalize its two-fish limit — or both.

The reason: Relatively few walleyes have been taken from Mille Lacs this summer, in part because of a shortage of anglers.

But the lake’s limit won’t be increased, at least not now, DNR regional treaty fisheries coordinator Tom Jones said Tuesday. Nor will its 18-20 inch harvest slot be expanded.

The reason: Mille Lacs walleye harvest numbers improved in the second half of June compared to the first half, and especially compared to May.

“The walleye harvest on Mille Lacs more than doubled the second half of June, from the first half,” Jones said.

Angler effort was about the same for the two periods: about 150,000 hours (actually, effort was slightly less in the second half than the first).

Since open water fishing began on Mille Lacs in mid-May, only about 53,000 pounds of walleyes have been caught, Jones said, a figure that includes 17,000 pounds of estimated post-release mortality.

The latter figure as a percentage of the total catch is somewhat high, probably because the 2-inch harvest slot requires Mille Lacs anglers to release about nine fish for every one they keep.

Catching and releasing so many fish aside, this remains true about Mille Lacs walleyes: They’re biting.

Which is good. And perhaps not so good.

“I’ve caught maybe 90 myself,” Jones said. “But they’ve all been fairly skinny.”

The lake’s hot bite (on the flats and in the rocks) and the condition of its walleyes, Jones said, suggest prey fish such as perch and tullibees are fairly scarce.

Whether disproportionately consumed by the lake’s larger walleyes, smallmouth bass, muskies, northerns or all of the above, or whether instead zebra mussels or other invasive species are at the root of the problem, is unknown.

“We’re doing a study this year to see what walleyes here are eating, and so far we’re seeing a lot of insects,” Jones said, “when they should be eating mostly fish.”

Another study intended to get a better handle on the size of the lake’s walleye population is underway, Jones said. Meanwhile, the lake’s hot bite continues.

 

Dennis Anderson danderson@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - WP: A. Harang 11 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 3
Houston - WP: J. Fields 7 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 4
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 2
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 1 FINAL
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 8
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 4 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Detroit - WP: J. Johnson 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: G. Balfour 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 3 FINAL
Miami - WP: S. Dyson 4
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 5 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana 1
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: B. Duensing 5
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Fiers 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Hoover 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 5
Kansas City - WP: J. Shields 7 FINAL
Colorado - LP: T. Matzek 4
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 2 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Kazmir 6
San Diego - LP: I. Kennedy 6 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: K. Correia 8
Pittsburgh 8/21/14 6:30 PM
Philadelphia
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close