First, the bad news:
According to a recent creel survey, walleye numbers continue to lag on Lake Mille Lacs.
And the good news: While this may hold true, a recently completed tagging and recapture population estimate shows that Mille Lacs walleye are healthy and able to support sport fishing, according to the DNR.
And the news: As a result, DNR fisheries section chief Ron Payer said theres no reason to lower the 2008 harvest of 430,000 pounds established in January.
After last falls gill net survey, there was some uncertainty about the amount of walleye that could be safely harvested from Mille Lacs, Payer said. But our spring population estimate confirms that the safe harvest level established in January is consistent with Mille Lacs walleye population.
Mille Lacs walleye are healthy and able to support sport fishing, according to the DNR.
Safe harvest levels are established by biologists each year for walleye and other species in Lake Mille, which is managed differently than other lakes in the state because the fishery is shared between state-licensed anglers and tribal harvests taken under treaty fishing rights.
Walleye counts during the fall 2007 gill net survey suggested an unexpected decline in the walleye population. After taking a number of factors into account, including the uncertainty of the gill net estimate, biologists established the 2008 safe harvest level at 430,000 pounds.
In all, nearly 19,000 walleyes were tagged with small, yellow, uniquely numbered tags during late April and early May. Nearly 5,000 walleyes were captured during mid-May through mid-June and examined for tags. Approximately 130 tagged walleyes were recaptured in that effort.
Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to report the tag information to the DNR. If the fish is harvested, the tag should be removed and returned to the DNR in Aitkin. Tags should be left in released fish and tag numbers should be written down and reported to the DNR. Tag cards are available at public access sites and businesses around Mille Lacs. Information also may be sent to MN-DNR Fisheries 1200, Minnesota Avenue, Aitkin, MN 56431. E-mails may be sent to email@example.com or information may be entered at mndnr.gov/fishing/tagged _fish_reporting.
The protected walleye slot on Mille Lacs is 18 to 28 inches, and the bag limit is four, which may include one fish longer than 28 inches.
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