ST. PAUL, Minnesota — The ban on night fishing on Mille Lacs Lake will end next week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Monday.
So few anglers have fished the big lake that the 42,900-pound harvest quota imposed this year on sport anglers isn't likely to be reached, DNR Deputy Commissioner Dave Schad said.
"We've done some (computer) modeling and it looks like the risk of reaching the quota is very, very low," Schad told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/W4EWec).
Mille Lacs anglers may resume fishing at night starting at 10 p.m. next Monday, the DNR said.
The ban was imposed just after the May walleye and northern pike opener. The agency said the night ban was needed so the walleye harvest quota on Mille Lacs would not be exceeded.
But the lake's tight harvest slot limit of two walleyes between 18 and 20 inches has kept anglers away, resort owners said. And those who have fished Mille Lacs have found walleye action slow, due to what the DNR says are plentiful perch and other forage fish in the lake.
As a result, the June walleye harvest was a record low for Mille Lacs, as was the amount of fishing pressure recorded on the lake.
Typically, night fishing for Mille Lacs walleyes is far more productive than daytime fishing. A fishing culture on the lake has developed over the years, during which boatloads of anglers converge to bobber fish for walleyes over submerged rock piles.
The lake's commercial fishing launches, which cater to groups of anglers, also have suffered this summer. Typically, anglers on the launches have the best luck on trips that last until about midnight.
But due to the night ban, the big boats this summer had to head to port by about 9:30 p.m. — just when Mille Lacs walleyes begin to bite.
Mille Lacs Lake: http://www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com