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Laabs column: Mille Lacs to be open again to harvesting walleye

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

Well, the big news, just released from the DNR recently, is that there will be some type of allowable walleye harvest on the nationally renowned walleye fishery, Mille Lacs Lake.

The last several years, the DNR and the eight Chippewa bands involved with the management of Mille Lacs, have worked cooperatively to help recover a depleted walleye population.

The bands had agreed to minimal netting for a season, and a couple of years of no harvest. The DNR, along with an advisory group, limited recreational harvest with strict size and number for harvest, as well as closed walleye seasons.

The lake has been heavily researched and aggressive stocking was also implemented. The positive evaluation of the lake status indicates it can start again to have some type of walleye harvest.

The total harvest limit allowed this year will be 150,000 pounds. Of that, the tribes will be allocated 62,200 pounds and 87,800 pounds will be allocated to the state for licensed anglers.

Three proposals are under consideration at this time. One will be an open season for anglers from May 11 until May 31 with a fall season with dates yet to be decided also being included. The rest of the season will be catch and release only.

The second proposal is for a May 11 through June 15 open harvest season, with catch and release only for the remainder of the year.

The third proposal is a May 11 through June 15 harvest season with a planned closure for July and August and catch and release in the fall.

No size and numbers have been released with the proposals. The decision for the plan and limit announcement will be made and released sometime in March. With the one fish harvest this winter on Mille Lacs, a total of 11,000 pounds have been harvested.

As we move into March you can start looking for good deals on all spring-summer fishing supplies and equipment. Retailers will be promoting all the new market products, and clearing last year's inventories with sale prices.

Deals can be had on new and used boats now if you are in the market, and electronics will be highly promoted this spring with all the new innovations. More boat and sport shows will be available around the region as everyone starts to get spring fever, and good deals can be had at these shows.

Now is a good time to get your new fishing license as current licenses expire Feb. 28! Your new license will be good from March 1, 2019 until May 28, 2020.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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