August 11, 2017 06:44 PM
Walleye fishing has returned to central Minnesota's Mille Lacs Lake after a month-long closure.
State regulators banned walleye fishing at the lake July 7 amid years of struggles to bolster the lake's walleye population. The planned three-week closure was extended another two weeks after discovering anglers had exceeded the 45,000-pound quota.
The catch-and-release walleye fishing resumed at Mille Lacs Lake at 6 a.m. on Friday and is planned to run through Labor Day.
With leeches and his love for big fish, Jeff Gerhart launched his boat into the lake on Friday.
"This will be my 12th time up here," Gerhart said.
Even through the walleye and live bait ban, the Rochester man just kept on casting.
"Muskies and northern pike, small mouth bass," Gerhart said. "Small mouth bass is phenomenal on this lake."
Gerhart, though, is among many anglers who think it's time regulations are relaxed on walleye.
"The numbers are, just from my experience, huge out there," Gerhart said. "There's big fish out there and there's big numbers too, so I caught a lot of walleyes from 20 to 28 inches and the average size was 24."
The declining walleye population has caused trouble on the lake for years. The Department of Natural Resources first closed walleye fishing season in 2015, causing outrage among local business owners.
Friday was welcomed with open arms by many in the community
"People are optimistic about it," said Tina Chapman, the Executive Director for the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council. "We'll see how it goes and hopefully things next year we won't have to go through closures and openings."
Associated Press & Tyler Berg
Updated: August 11, 2017 06:44 PM
Created: August 11, 2017 10:55 AM
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