March 21, 2017 08:07 PM
Minnesota wildlife officials are imposing another restriction during the catch-and-release walleye season on Mille Lacs Lake this summer.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there will be a 21-day walleye fishing closure on the lake from July 7 through July 27.
During that time, anglers will still be allowed to fish for other species, including bass, muskies and northerns, but must use artificial bait and lures.
Minnesota DNR officials said the decision to impose a 21-day closure was made after a successful winter season drove the walleye harvest higher than expected.
"Ice anglers fished more on Mille Lacs in 2017 and caught more and larger walleye than expected," Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief, said in a statement. "As a result, ice fishing this winter accounted for about one-third of the total amount of walleye state anglers can harvest from Mille Lacs in 2017."
According to the DNR, the catch-and-release restrictions are needed to help rebuild Mille Lacs' walleye population. The catch-and-release regulations were first imposed on the lake last year.
But 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found the catch-and-release policy isn't sitting well with locals.
Bill Lundeen owns Lundeen Tackle Castle in Onamia. He said the policy has taken a toll on tourism and believes it will cause businesses to shut down.
"From a business perspective, I don't know. We've already seen stores, businesses and resorts close," Lundeen said. "With this announcement, I'm sure you will see more."
Rebecca Omastiak and Joe Mazan
Updated: March 21, 2017 08:07 PM
Created: March 21, 2017 11:25 AM
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