Beginning May 11, Mille Lacs anglers can keep four walleyes between 14 and 16 inches or three walleyes of that size and one over 28 inches, the DNR announced.
Fishing will be prohibited from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting at 10 p.m. May 13 and ending at 12:01 a.m. on June 10. Persons cannot fish for any species or possess fishing gear on Mille Lacs while the night ban is in effect.
Beginning June 10, the walleye harvest slot expands to 14 to 17 inches if projections indicate the total sport harvest will not exceed 300,000 pounds. If the allocation is in danger of being exceeded the 14 to 16 inch slot will remain in place for the entire season.
"We plan to manage Mille Lacs using the same regulation for a three-year period," said Ron Payer, head of DNR fisheries. "This will be the first year of regulation stability on Mille Lacs. This will allow us to honor the state's commitment to stay within the state's harvest allocation, though we may do so over a three-year period instead of annually."
If the state's harvest exceeds its allocation through the first two years the third-year regulation will be more restrictive. Slot and bag limits could be expanded if harvests are below the target allocation.
Any potential changes will be discussed with the Mille Lacs Lake Fisheries Input Group, which provides input on harvest regulations to accommodate business interests on the lake.
"It's very important to realize that the tradeoff resulting in stability for multiple years carries with it the risk of possible restrictions in the third year," Payer said.
The state's walleye allocation for recreational anglers in 2002 is 300,000 pounds. The eight Chippewa bands' allocation is 100,000 pounds. Together they comprise the 2002 safe harvest of 400,000 pounds.
Northern pike will have a 24-36 inch protected slot with one over 36 inches allowed. Tullibee will be governed by a 10-fish limit and a three-day fall sport-netting season.
DNR Commissioner Allen Garber approved the regulations after a Jan. 30 meeting with the Mille Lacs Lake Fisheries Input Group.
The coming year on Mille Lacs has the potential to provide great fishing, the DNR says. Walleye catch rates could be twice that of anywhere else in the state.
"They're hungry and they're going to bite because there isn't much food out there," said Tim Goeman, DNR regional fisheries manager in Brainerd. "There should be some tremendous fishing this spring and summer."
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