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DNR Maintains Walleye Slot Limit for LakeMille

February 17 2005

DNR maintains walleye slot limit for Lake Mille Lacs (2005-02-17) Anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs this year will again have ample opportunity to harvest walleye under a slot limit unchanged from last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The season opens May 14 with a regulation that allows anglers to keep four walleye up to 20 inches, which may include one trophy over 28 inches. Anglers must release all walleye from 20 - 28 inches.

"This is good for anglers and good for the fishery," said John Guenther, DNR director of Fish and Wildlife. "Anglers will have plenty of opportunity and the consistency with last year's regulation is
something that anglers and the Mille Lacs resort community will appreciate. Moreover, it will provide protection for upcoming year classes."

The slot limit allows more opportunities for angling harvest in mid-summer, when the bite on Mille Lacs traditionally slows. Starting July 15, anglers will be allowed to keep walleye up to 22 inches with one trophy over 28 inches in the four fish limit. All walleye from 22 -28 inches must be released. The slot will revert to four walleye up to 20 inches with one over 28 inches in the four fish limit on Dec. 1.

Although it will allow more harvest, the slot limit protects future fishing opportunities, said Ron Payer, DNR chief of fisheries management. "The majority of our spawning stock biomass - large, mature fish - remains protected under this regulation," Payer said.

The large number of walleye hatched in 2002, now 11 - 13 inches, will not be harmed under the regulations, Payer added. "If an angler deep hooks a 11-to-13-inch fish, this regulation allows anglers the flexibility to take that fish home and fry it up," he said. "However, we are encouraging anglers to release these smaller fish that are likely to survive."

Last month, the DNR set this year's safe harvest level of walleye at 505,000 pounds, 5 percent higher than the 2004 level of 480,000 pounds. Eight bands of Minnesota and Wisconsin Ojibwae may take 100,000 pounds of walleye. In 2004, state anglers took 79,000 pounds of their available quota while releasing just over 200,000 pounds.

The Mille Lacs regulation is similar to special walleye regulations on other popular walleye lakes such as Rainy, Big Sandy and Winnibigoshish.

"This regulation protects the long-term health of the fishery," Payer said. "It allows excellent opportunities for anglers and safeguards economic interests."

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