May 11, 2019 10:10 PM
For the first time in four years, anglers on Mille Lacs who fish for walleye can now keep one under relaxed restrictions from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The harvest comes after years of conservation efforts to bolster the population of walleye on the popular central Minnesota lake, according to DNR officials.
Anglers have until May 31 to catch one walleye to keep. The fish must be between 21 and 23 inches or over 28 inches. On June 1, the walleye season returns to catch-and-release only.
The impact of the walleye harvest was visible to anglers who came out for the fishing opener. Keith Lindberg from St. Cloud, for instance, said the lake was busier than usual.
"I'm here almost every year and I'd say this is probably the most people I've seen on an opener in probably six or seven years," Lindberg said.
Lindberg said despite the colder water temperature the walleye were biting.
Justin Rivard and his family caught a lot of fish early Saturday morning.
"We probably boated 10 to 15 walleyes, with one in the slot limit," Rivard said. The fish measured in just over 21 inches.
"It's really nice to be able to actually come here and take home some fish to have a meal when we get back home," he said.
Resorts that line the lake are also hoping the draw of the walleye harvest will boost business.
At Eddy's Resort, boats came and went throughout the day.
"I think a lot of people are going to try and get out and do a lot of their fishing in May here," said Vicki Parker, who helps run Eddy's. She said their charters are booked and they are staying busy.
"There's a lot of potential in this lake, and we're just hoping for the best," she said.
Updated: May 11, 2019 10:10 PM
Created: May 11, 2019 08:37 PM
Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company