A Look Back: Upper Red Lake's 6-Year Walleye Hiatus

A Look Back: Upper Red Lake's 6-Year Walleye Hiatus Photo: KSTP/File

July 06, 2017 06:27 PM

Tightened walleye rules on Mille Lacs Lake the past two years have generated plenty of controversy.

But such restrictions are not new to Minnesota walleye fisheries. 


RELATED: 3-Week Walleye Ban on Mille Lacs Gets Underway

When overharvest caused the walleye population to collapse on Upper Red Lake, the state's Department of Natural Resources similarly shut down fishing for the species in 1999.

That ban remained in place until 2006.

At the time, according to a 2005 DNR press release, the Red Lake Band, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the DNR agreed to a short-term stocking measure to go along with closing the harvest and "aggressive enforcement."

It took until 2005 before the transition from an outright ban to management took place. 

Henry Drewes, the agency's regional fisheries manager in Bemidji, said at the time:

"Now that we have reestablished an abundant walleye population, our focus has shifted to working on a sustainable, collaborative management approach that protects this walleye population from being over harvested once again."

Today, the walleye population on Upper Red Lake is doing well. The adult population is abundant enough that the DNR has recently broadened the catch limit to make room for new fish.

For the first time on an opening day, angers this year were able to keep up to four walleye, with one longer than 17 inches.

The DNR had allowed four in the bag in previous years, but never starting on opening day.


Michael Oakes

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