After eight Chippewa bands expressed strong concerns, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will close the Mille Lacs Lake catch-and-release walleye season on Tuesday, Sept. 6. 

Warm water temperatures and high catch rates on Mille Lacs during July and August led to higher-than-expected hooking mortality rates — an estimate of the number of fish that die after being caught and returned to the water. The state’s current estimated walleye harvest is 45,276 pounds, exceeding the original state quota by 16,676 pounds.

The state decided earlier this month to keep walleye fishing open out of concern for the impact of an early closure on the area economy. The catch-and-release-only regulations on Mille Lacs are successfully conserving the lake’s future spawning population of walleye.

Given the strong concerns of band leaders, the state will close the lake’s walleye season after the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The 2016 allocation established by the bands and the DNR in January was 40,000 pounds – 28,600 for state-licensed anglers and 11,400 for tribal fishing. Eight Chippewa bands hold treaty fishing rights to Mille Lacs Lake.

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