GARRISON (AP) -- The Lake Mille Lacs walleye limit would be cut from six to four fish this year, and strict size limits would be imposed, under a plan that the Department of Natural Resources is considering.
DNR officials met Wednesday night with about 40 Mille Lacs area anglers and business owners to discuss this year's walleye limit on the big central Minnesota lake.
Under an agreement with eight Chippewa bands, sport anglers this year can harvest no more than 300,000 pounds of walleyes from Lake Mille Lacs. A better-than-average winter catch rate this year would cut into the quota by a projected 60,000 pounds, twice the annual average, DNR officials warned.
DNR Commissioner Allen Garber said he will either accept or modify the recommendation in a few days.
The citizen's group, called the Lake Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group, was directed to discuss several options involving strict size and bag limits. After a three-hour discussion, which was often contentious, the group proposed:
--Starting with the May 11 fishing opener, anglers would be able to keep only fish between 14 and 16 inches, with one trophy longer than 28 inches. The bag limit would be four fish.
--Starting June 10, the harvest slot could be expanded to 14 to 17 inches, with the same trophy rule and four-fish bag limit. But DNR officials would closely monitor the catch to see if anglers were staying under the quota and open the slot if the harvest was within projected limits. The change would coincide with the day the DNR lifts the night-fishing ban.
Participants discussed banning night fishing on Mille Lacs all together, but agreed to allow it this year.
DNR computer models estimate that the proposed harvest scenario would yield 288,000 pounds of walleyes to sport anglers. However, fisheries managers predict Mille Lacs anglers will be highly successful again this summer. If too many walleyes are caught early in the season, it's possible the harvest slot will not be expanded.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.