Resorts prepare for walleye season with no blackout dates on Mille Lacs Lake

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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will allow walleye fishing to be open all summer on Mille Lacs Lake, a change from more stringent rules in years past.

The DNR says the relaxed regulations are due to a combination of a lower walleye harvest during the winter and the walleye population growing on the lake.

Anglers will be allowed to keep a walleye that is 21-23 inches in length or more than 28 inches during the entire open water season this year.

“There’s more food in the water. The fish are getting fatter, which is good for the health of the walleye population and health of the entire lake,” said Brad Parsons, DNR fisheries section manager.

Over the years, there have been a variety of restrictions in place for walleye fishing on the lake due to a declining population.

It’s the lore of Mille Lacs fishing that hooked Geoff Heppding after coming here for 34 years.

He is now one of the owners of Castles Resort in Isle.

“Overdue, past time. We’re very excited, to be honest with you,” Heppding said about the newly announced fishing changes. “When it’s hard on the fishing, the downhill side is it’s hard on all the small businesses and all the business owners around it.”

Over at Appeldoorn’s Sunset Bay Resort, staff worked on updating their website with the new fishing changes that they feel will allow more flexibility for anglers to come up during the summer.

“It will be a lot more memories that can be made. That’s what is important to us as a company and us as families that love Mille Lacs as much as we do,” said Madison Lowell, resort staffer.

At the walleye fishing opener in 2020, initially no live bait was allowed and it was catch-and-release only. In 2021 the DNR set mixed rules that early and late-season walleye harvest was allowed but fishing was catch-and-release during the summer. Anglers were again allowed a one-walleye limit early in the season and again in the fall of 2022 with catch-and-release during the summer fishing season.

The 2023 Mille Lacs Lake walleye season opener is Saturday, May 13. The regulations are in place from then until Nov. 30. 

Go to the DNR’s website for more on walleye fishing restrictions at Mille Lacs Lake.