Tim Rekow and Mike Gahlon, both of the Twin Cities, spent four hours on Mille Lacs on Saturday beneath a bright sun, fishing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 9 Mile and 7 Mile Flats.
Like most anglers on the big lake this summer, they found hot fishing. They boated eight walleyes, including two behemoths, one measuring 25 inches and the other 27 inches.
Question: Are Mille Lacs anglers this summer having success because the lake’s walleyes are more plentiful than the Department of Natural Resources believes? Or is the bite hot because perch and other forage fish are in short supply?
Either way, the success Rekow and Gahlon found has been more the norm than the exception on Mille Lacs this summer.
Typically, a lake with such a hot walleye bite would draw a lot of interest. That’s not the case this summer on Mille Lacs, DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira said. Angler activity has been low, he said, because the lake is governed this summer by a no-harvest, total-release walleye restriction.
Yet because the DNR must include in anglers’ 28,600-pound walleye quota this year the estimated weight of walleyes that die after being caught and released, an estimated 453 pounds of Mille Lacs walleyes (207 fish) were “harvested” as of May 31.
An updated Mille Lacs walleye hooking mortality estimate should be available later this week, Pereira said. He added that his agency is using water temperature sensors throughout the lake this summer to help ensure the estimate’s accuracy.
Owners of Mille Lacs resorts and other area businesses hope the 28,600-pound quota goes unmet this year.
Last summer, Mille Lacs walleye fishing ended in early August when the same quota was met. The DNR blamed a hot bite, in part. But high air and water temperatures in July also played a role. The warmer the water, the more likely fish are to die after being caught and released.