Angling pressure almost doubled from last year in month of May

Starting in July, walleye-specific fishing will be closed for the month.

As part of the walleye restrictions in July, anglers will not be allowed to use live bait for any species, except sucker minnows greater than 8 inches in length for targeting northern pike and muskellunge, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

After July, walleye restrictions will revert to catch-and-release.

According to a press release from the DNR, poor ice conditions on other lakes caused anglers to focus their attention on Mille Lacs, resulting in the highest fishing pressure on the lake in 30 years with almost 30,000 estimated pounds of harvest. The left only 57,800 pounds available for the state’s open water season under the safe harvest level established for 2020 by the State and the eight Chippewa Bands that have treaty fishing rights.

“We know any summer walleye closure is disappointing, but anglers have told us they prefer a planned temporary closure in July to an unplanned one later in the season,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The addition of the live bait ban allows for the shortest closure to ensure we remain within the set allocation and support the long-term interest of the walleye fishery.”

The press release stated that walleye are particularly vulnerable in July because, as water temperature increases, so too does “hooking mortality” – the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released. By implementing fishing restrictions when walleye are most vulnerable and reducing angler take, anglers could potentially gain two months or more of late summer and fall fishing, the press release stated.

Angling pressure remains high

According to DNR creel surveys, angling pressure for walleye, northern pike and yellow perch has almost doubled in the month of May from May of 2019. According to DNR’s estimates through creel surveys, 467,454 pounds of walleye, northern pike and yellow perch were released in May of 2020 compared to 229,944 pounds of the same fish species in May of 2019.

Other fishing regulations

The new walleye rule is among several regulations changes this year, but bass and northern pike also have new regulations.

New regulations to maintain and improve fishing for bass and northern pike include:

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