Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lake Mille Lacs safe harvest levels set (February 3, 2009)

Safe fish harvest levels have been set at Lake Mille Lacs for the 2009 fishing season.

The safe harvest of walleye has been set at 541,000 pounds, up from 430,000 pounds last fishing season. The state’s allocation is 414,500 pounds, up from 307,500 pounds last year.

Indian bands that signed the 1837 Treaty will be allocated 126,500 pounds of walleye this fishing season, up from 122,500 pounds last year.

The state’s 2009 walleye harvest may include an overage allowance of up to 5 percent.

The yellow perch and northern pike safe harvest levels are the same as last year. The yellow perch level is 270,000 pounds; the northern pike level is 25,000 pounds. The state’s allocation is 135,000 pounds of yellow perch and 12,500 pounds of northern pike.

Due to low abundance and low incidental harvest in both the tribal and angling fisheries, quotas will not be set for tullibee and burbot. Instead, these species will be monitored, and safe harvest levels will be discussed in the future if abundance, harvest, and fishing interest increase.

Every year fisheries experts from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the eight Chippewa bands meet in January to share information and determine safe harvest levels.

“Now that we know what the State’s walleye quota is for 2009, we can evaluate where the winter fishery stands and can evaluate if our current regulation will keep us within our allocation,” said Ron Payer, Minnesota DNR fisheries chief. “And once we have done that, we will meet with the Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group.”

The current Mille Lacs regulation allows anglers to keep four walleye up to 18 inches, which may include one trophy over 28 inches. Anglers are required to release all walleye from 18 to 28 inches.

Total walleye angling harvest was 76,000 pounds in 2008. The safe harvest level was increased from last year due to low total harvest in 2008.

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