The Minnesota DNR has decided that based on the struggling walleye population on Mille Lacs and the harvest numbers for the 2017 ice fishing season, that Mille Lacs will now have a catch-and-release only season for walleye in 2017. The season opens on May 13, 2017 and closes on Sept. 4, 2017. And there will be a complete shut down of the walleye fishing season from July 7 to July 27 where no walleye will be fished for at all. Other species are open to fishing on the lake, but not walleye.
This has been a controversial topic over recent years with a lot of erroneous information spreading around. First, they allowed unlimited harvesting of smallmouth to supposedly combat the problem. Now it's catch and release only for recreational anglers for walleye to continue to reverse the decrease in walleye stocks. A lot of people are pointing to another side of the issue which is the tribal Indian rights to net walleye, especially around the vulnerable spawning time. That has a lot of people questioning the validity of DNR actions around the walleye fishery. It's led to people resigning from advisory boards as the notion that Native Americans netting walleye with no restrictions has no impact on the walleye population.
Scientists site cleaner and clearing water clarity in the famed fishery as the culprit for the demise of one of the former top walleye fisheries in the nation.