Mille Lacs Lake Summer Fishing Regulations Released
Today the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) released the summer open water fishing regulations for Mille Lacs Lake walleye. We at the Red Door Resort looking forward to the open water season and are excited that anglers will be able to keep a slot walleye during May and, especially, again during the fall. Here is a summary of the walleye regulations, which change over the course of the open water season:
- Starting with the Minnesota Open Water Fishing Opener at 12:01am on Saturday, May 15, 2021 and continuing through Monday, May 31, 2021, anglers will be allowed to keep one walleye between 21-23 inches or one fish longer than 28 inches. All other walleye must be immediately released
- For the month of June (i.e., Tuesday, June 1, 2021 through Wednesday, June 30, 2021), walleye fishing will be catch-and-release only
- For the two weeks from Thursday, July 1, 2021 through Thursday, July 15, 2021, the lake will be closed to walleye fishing
- From Friday, July 16, 2021 through Wednesday, September 15, 2021, Mille Lacs will be open again to catch-and-release walleye fishing
- From Thursday, September 16, 2021 and continuing through Tuesday, November 30, 2021, anglers will again be allowed to keep one walleye between 21-23 inches or one fish longer than 28 inches. All other walleye must be immediately released
In addition to walleye, remember that Lake Mille Lacs has world class bass, pike and muskie fishing. Here is a summary of the some of the regulations for those species:
Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass: All bass greater than 17 inches must be immediately released. Bass are catch-and-release only from Saturday, May 15, 2021 from through Friday, May 28,2021. The largemouth bass angling season then lasts until Sunday, February 27, 2022. The smallmouth bass angling season is open until Sunday, September 12, 2021 and then catch-and-release only through Sunday, February 27, 2022.
Northern Pike: All pike greater than 30 inches must be immediately released. From Saturday, May 15, 2021 through Thursday, March 31, 2022 the daily limit is three. The spearing season lasts from November 15, 2021 to Sunday, February 27, 2022.
Muskellunge: All muskie less than 54 inches must be immediately released. The season lasts from Saturday, June 5, 2021 to Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
From Monday, May 17, 2021 through Tuesday, November 30, 2021, night closures will be in effect on Mille Lacs. The night closures are from 10pm to 6am from Monday, May 17, 2021 to Wednesday, September 15, 2021; and from midnight (12am) to 6am from Thursday, September 16, 2021 to Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Pike and muskie fishing – beginning Saturday, June 5, 2021 and with artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches – is allowed at night.
Finally, during the walleye closure from Thursday, July 1, 2021 through Thursday, July 15, 2021 and with the exception of sucker minnows larger than 8 inches used to target pike and muskie, no live bait will be allowed.
We’re looking forward to the open water fishing season at The Red Door Resort. Watch our various social media channels for catch photos, lodging updates and relaxation opportunities. And remember that the north shore of Lake Mille Lacs is only two hours from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. Hope to see you soon!
The full MNDNR press release is copied below and can also be found here.
If you want to see how these summer Mille Lacs regulations compare to what the MNDNR was contemplating in early March 2021, you can read our “Keep a Mille Lacs Walleye Summer of 2021?” blog post here.
Early and late season walleye harvest to be allowed on Mille Lacs in 2021
Early-season walleye anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be able to keep one walleye 21-23 inches long or one longer than 28 inches. Summer will bring catch-and-release walleye fishing, with a mid-season closure, before the potential for a one-fish limit returns in the fall.
“Lower walleye harvest this winter is allowing us to offer some open-water walleye harvest this year,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We’re glad Mille Lacs anglers will have the chance to keep a walleye on opening weekend and Memorial Day weekend — two of the most popular times to fish during the year. We also hope to be able to allow some harvest this fall.”
The one-fish walleye limit will be in place from Saturday, May 15, through Monday, May 31. Walleye fishing will be catch-and-release from Tuesday, June 1, through Wednesday, June 30. A two-week closure — implemented to reduce hooking mortality — will be in place from Thursday, July 1, through Thursday, July 15. Catch-and-release walleye fishing will resume on Friday, July 16, and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 15.
After opening weekend, fishing hours on Mille Lacs Lake will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all species. Beginning Saturday, June 5, muskellunge and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches can fish after 10 p.m.
The one-fish walleye limit is scheduled to resume Thursday, Sept. 16, through Tuesday, Nov. 30. During the late season, the DNR also will allow anglers to fish from 6 a.m. to midnight.
“Our projections strongly suggest that fall harvest can occur,” Parsons said. “However, predicting fishing pressure, catch rates and weather involves some uncertainty so we want people to recognize that the fall harvest will depend on how much of the state’s 2021 walleye allocation remains as we approach September. As always, we will monitor the factors that determine the state’s walleye take throughout the open water season.”
The state and the eight Chippewa bands that have treaty fishing rights agreed Mille Lacs could sustain a state harvest of up to 87,800 pounds of walleye this year, unchanged from 2020. During the 2020 season, state-licensed anglers took 66,748 pounds and tribal fishing took 33,113 pounds.
This year’s winter walleye harvest was about 16,000 pounds, about half of what it was in 2020. Lower catch rates for anglers, combined with fewer people fishing, caused harvest to return to normal levels after a big spike last year. That drop in walleye take gave the DNR more flexibility to implement a one-fish limit during the early season and plan one for the late season.
Even with the drop in winter harvest, a two-week closure during what’s normally one of the hottest times of the summer remains necessary to protect walleye. As water temperature increases, so does hooking mortality — the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released. Protecting walleye during this vulnerable period can allow for many weeks of harvest during cooler times of the year.
To help avoid incidental catch of walleye during the two-week closure, fishing for any species with certain kinds of bait will be restricted. Anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge can use sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. But anglers targeting other fish may not use live, dead, preserved or parts of minnows, night crawlers, worms, leeches or crayfish.
“Our goal with these regulations is to meet the state’s treaty obligations while also providing the best possible experience for anglers, recognizing that fishing and the anglers it brings are economically important to the Mille Lacs Lake area,” Parsons said.
More information about fishing regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, ongoing DNR management and research, citizen engagement and Mille Lacs-area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website.