|"The Bait Shop"|
... MILLE LACS LAKE
FISHING REGULATIONS 2017
(Including tributaries to posted boundaries)
* Angling for walleye is limited to catch-and-release only. All walleye caught must be immediately returned to the water.
* Walleye season closed from 12:01 am on July 7 through 11:59 pm onJuly 27 and from 12:01 am on September 5 through 11:59 pm on November 30. No targeting of walleye is allowed.
NO LIVE BAIT: LIVE BAIT IS ALLOWED THROUGH 7-6-17. Only artificial bait and lures allowed in possession from 12:01 am on July 7 through 11:59 pm on July 27 and from 12:01 am on September 5 through 11:59 pm on November 30. An exception is made for suckers greater than 8" in length for anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge.
NORTHERN PIKE:Possession limit is 5 with only one greater than 40". Release immediately all northern pike between 30" and 40".
SMALLMOUTH BASS AND LARGEMOUTH BASS:
* Angling season is open from May 13, 2017 - February 25, 2018. Prior to May 27, 2017, all largemouth and smallmouth bass that are caught must be immediately released.
* Possession limit is 3 combined, with only one bass greater than 21". All bass from 17" to 21" must be immediately released.
TULLIBEE (Cisco):Possession limit is 10.
ALL OTHER SPECIES:Follow statewide regulations.
NO CULLING OR LIVE WELL SORTING:Fish taken into possession may not be exchanged for another fish, except that culling is allowed for bass prior to reaching a possession limit.
NIGHT CLOSURE:From 10 pm on May 15 through 11:59 pm on November 30.
* May 15 - June 2 From 10 pm to 6 am, no one may fish for any species or possess fishing gear on the lake.
* June 3 - November 30 From 10 pm to 6 am, fishing tackle may be possessed but not used, except:
a) Muskellunge and northern pike may be targeted with artificial lures longer than 8" or sucker minnows longer than 8". No other lures or baits may be in possession if night fishing for northern pike or muskellunge. No possession or targeting of species other than muskellunge or northern pike.
b) Bow fishing for rough fish - No possession of angling equipment, and only rough fish may be in possession.
... MILLE LACS LAKE
FISHING REGULATIONS 2017
If you haven't been to Mille Lacs yet this season, come now.
Walleye action continues to make headlines all over the place - locally, regionally and even well outside our traditional markets. Folks continue to enjoy the best walleye fishing we've had in years... some say the best ever! We're seeing fish shallow, deep, on rocks, gravel, mud, weeds, windy days, calm, morning, evening... it doesn't seem to matter. If you have a boat that will take you out on the water, you'll surely have your best chance ANYWHERE in Minnesota to catch a walleye - and probably a BIG one at that! Leeches are the top bait, followed closely by crawlers. Some of the better spots include Indian Point, 4-mile gravel, Garrison Reef and Sherman's Flat. We've seen the post-spawn smallmouth bite pick up a little better this week - nearly all of these fish have left the beds and made their way out toward their summer haunts. We're seeing decent numbers of smallies in 9-14 feet on the rock piles. 3-inch tubes and grubs have been good in browns and greens. A "slow" approach works best. Northern action is slow by historical standards. Usually by the 23 of June, the water temperature is established in the low 70's - this year, we're still bobbin' around the mid to high 60's. Even those couple of degrees can make a difference. Most of the fish that have been taken so far have been on live suckers in 7-12 feet. Muskie activity is slow.
...(6-16)Still great. Maybe better than last week.
Many of the Mille Lacs walleye anglers are fishing the mudflats. While this is far from the only hot spot, the flats DO hold the largest overall concentration of walleye. Leeches, crawlers, minnows crankbaits and even some plastics will all work. Leeches and crawlers are best. We continue to see fish on numerous structures with varying bottom contents, ranging from 6-35 feet. There are still a few smallies on the beds, but you'll find most of these fish in 10-14 on the edges of the rocky shorelines and reefs. Tubebaits are tops, but we've seen them respond to a bunch of presentations including a jig and minnow. Northern and muskie action has been spotty at best, with the most fish coming from the bays along the south end of Mille Lacs. Live suckers are the ticket here.
From the DNR's website:
*** Harvest & hooking mortality: 13,684 lbs. (5,261 fish) ice fishing through March 19, 2017
***Hooking mortality estimate: 2,086 lbs. (843 fish) May 13-31, 2017
***Released: 174,529 lbs. (76,019 fish) May 13-31, 2017
Tribal fishing total: 13,886 of 19,200 allowed lbs. (7,013 fish)
State angler total: 15,770 of 44,800 allowed lbs. (6,104 fish)
*** Last year for the period from the opener through May 31, State anglers were assessed a mere 453 pounds for hooking mortality (vs. 2,086 this year). Nearly 5 times more pounds assessed for hooking mortality in May?! From another perspective, State anglers were just under 10% of the total allowable pounds at this time in 2016 (2,092 of 28,600 allowed pounds) (including the poundage from winter, which is added to the following year's open-water numbers).This year, we're at about 33% (15,770 of 44,800 allowed lbs.) including the winter poundage. So what? Call me nuts, but at this rate I don't expect to see the season open again (after the July 7th closure) until December 1st.
...(6-8) Mille Lacs anglers are still enjoying an exceptional bite! Walleye action very good. Smallmouth action is very good. If you can't catch fish on Mille Lacs right now... take up golf.
We continue to see walleye range from 4-34 feet, with the most consistent depth being 27-32 feet. Leeches, night crawlers, minnows and crankbaits are all good. Spinners are good. The mud flats are better than the gravel.Don't over-think it. With the water warming up, many of the smallmouth have moved up "on the beds". You'll find a lot of these fish in 2-6 feet. Some of the favorite hiding spots are under the docks and boatlifts. Small tubes and jerkbaits are pulling most of the fish.
The surface temperature is in the mid-60's.
...(5-25)We saw a pretty lite turnout on Mille Lacs again this week - a few ugly weather days made for some pretty lonely boat ramps. Those of us who put in our time caught some pretty decent fish - more than most people expected even after all the talk about how good the bite is . Numerous people have remarked about the NUMBER of walleye they catch each trip and how they have "their spots" all to themselves. The north end still has a good daytime bite, as does most any legitimate rock reef around the perimeter. We did see some good daytime fish on the mud flats too (yes, already). Shiners and leeches hold the top spot, with crawlers coming in third. The end is near for the spottail shiners... it was a blast while it lasted! Smallie action has been decent, but is a little behind where we were last year at this time. Most folks would expect to chase the smallies on the beds this time of year, but this year the cool water has kept many of these fish in 8-12 feet. Rest assured, they'll move in - some of them have moved already, but as of today most of them are still deeper. Toss small tubes or jerkbaits at 'em. The northern bite has been spotty, with most off the fish hitting small suckers in Cove and Wahkon Bay.
The surface temperature is ranging in mid-50's.
Yes, we still have spottail shiners - yes, the end is in sight.
...(5-18)We had perfect weather for the 2017 Mille Lacs opener - couple that with a better-than-average bite and you win every time! Lake traffic was down somewhat compared to historical "opening day levels", but those we talked to all remarked about how good the walleye bite is. Also noted was the overall size of the fish - many were over 22 inches, but numerous walleye were caught out of every legitimate yearclass we have here. Looking to catch a bunch of walleye? GET UP HERE!
We saw fish from 6 to 30 feet of water, but the best walleye bite was from 12-18 feet. Often we see a bigger concentration of fish along the north end when the water temperatures are in the low to mid 50's. And we did, but we also saw some of the best opening day action throughout the entire perimeter of the lake. It was even called "easy" by many! Leeches and shiners are the top baits, but we also saw some fish on crawlers and crankbaits and even some on plastics by folks who didn't realize that YOU CAN USE LIVE BAIT ON MILLE LACS. Some of the better areas include the north-end sand, Big Point, Sherman's Point, Hawkbill and Mile-and-a-quarter reef. Smallmouth fishing was a little behind usual, as many of these fish haven't moved into the super-shallow (docks, boat lifts) areas yet. It's close, though. Even a number of the smallie anglers caught walleye while they were casting for bass. There weren't too many folks chasing northern, and those who did found it average at best. Small suckers in 6-10 feet are the ticket here.
Surface temps remain in the low/mid 50's.
The "night ban" is now in effect. 10pm - 6am.
...(3-24) As most of you have heard by now, the Mille Lacs open-water walleye season will be catch-and-release. Mostly. At least until Labor Day. Probably. In addition, the DNR announced this week in a press release that walleye fishing will close (no pursuit - no catch and release) for the period from July 7th to July 27th. "During that 21-day period, anglers can fish for all other species in Mille Lacs Lake including bass, muskies and northerns but only with artificial bait and lures. An exception exists for anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge only, and who don’t possess walleye gear. Those anglers may possess and use live sucker minnows longer than 8 inches when fishing. The state's 2017 walleye allocation is 44,800 pounds. However, during discussions, state and Ojibwe tribal leadership established that the 2017 walleye season will remain open through 12:01 a.m., Sept. 5, provided the state harvest doesn't exceed a conservation cap of 55,800." It appears (although it isn't printed in the press release) that the walleye season would re-open (catch and release, live bait allowed) from 7-28 through Labor Day (9-4-17). I'm not sure why Labor Day became the official end of the walleye season on Mille Lacs, but this will be the 3rd year in a row (8-1-15, 9-6-16, 9-4-17) that Mille Lacs anglers get screwed out of fall walleye fishing. No catch and release, just a clear message to stay the #$%& away. Also, what about grandpa and the grandkids who want to go down on the dock with a box of crawlers to catch some perch or sunnies - sounds like this is off the table during the July "pause"?! And before your math gets away from you, remember that our "year" (from a harvest standpoint) begins December 1st. That means that the whopper winter season we had counts against the "quota" for the open water season. We were assessed about 1/3 of the annual take (according to fisheries section chief Don Pereira) leaving walleye anglers with +/- 29,000 pounds to work with - similar poundage to 2016.
While the Mille Lacs community didn't "invent" the concept of catch-and-release, we've been a conservation leader in Minnesota and beyond. From the groundbreaking, voluntary efforts of the 70's and 80's when most people considered fish a food source, to the 90's when the "1-over-20" sent some folks into a tizzy, to "harvest slots" and "release slots", to 4 inch slots and even 2 INCH SLOTS, to reduced bag limits, to lofty concepts like ""spawning stock biomass", "harvestable surplus", "Condition 3" (where overage = shutdown) and ultimately the dreaded "HOOKING MORTALITY" - the bane of reason - the scourge of Mille Lacs loyalists - paper fish, some call 'em. No, we didn't invent catch and release - but we didn't invent hooking mortality either... that's one that the DNR invented and shoved up our XXXXXX. We get a quota that, against the master plan of the Minnesota DNR and their alpha-partners, will allow "us" to fish walleye in Minnesota's premier fishery. A quota made up of fish that we can catch, but must release even though they might die after being released. Or they might not. Unless the water is too warm... like in July. Sometimes. Until later in July when it will cool off. Probably. Unless we've already surpassed the quota with dead "paper fish", in which case we'll need to stop anyway. Even though it's before Labor Day. Which is significant why? Because, right?! Just ask any 4-year-old. Because.
The quintessential Mille Lacs angler has tolerated (sometimes begrudgingly) this same crap sandwich (only on a different bun) year after year, and persevered to fish the lake that they love. I admire your conviction - I can't give it up either. But that doesn't make the sandwich any easier to swallow. Fish another species? Sometimes. Go birdwatching? Maybe by Spirit Island while we're whackin' walleyes! Try paddleboarding? Too fat. Hitting the beach? See paddleboarding. As anglers I think we've taken our "one-for-the-team" enough. We encourage everyone who may attend the Sports Show over the next few days to visit the DNR booth... I think it's important that they "feel the love" from all the Mille Lacs anglers.
This will be the last Weekend Outlook until things start to fire-up ahead of the opener. We sincerely thank all of our patrons and friends who helped make the winter season a success.