ONAMIA, Minn. (WCCO) – One of Minnesota’s most popular fishing destinations is missing its fishermen.

The DNR says June was very slow on Lake Mille Lacs, with anglers spending half the time fishing that they did the previous year.

Now, the DNR is lifting restrictions on night fishing and lake area business owners hope it helps.

On a typical Sunday afternoon, Lundeen’s Tackle Castle bait shop on Lake Mille Lacs would be packed with customers.

But not today.

“This year it’s been slower than what we’ve enjoyed for all the years that we’ve been here certainly,” owner Bill Lundeen said.

In fact, June registered the lowest number of fishing hours on record for Lake Mille Lacs.

But starting Monday, night fishing restrictions will be lifted on the lake, allowing anglers to fish after 10 p.m.

“At that time it’s a little bit easier to catch them,” fishing guide Shaun Joy said.

Fishing guide Shaun Joy says lake area businesses are looking forward to the night fishing ban being lifted, hoping anglers and customers will bite.

“By shutting the lake down at 10 p.m. at night that’s coming into the prime time of fishing,” Joy said.

Ramona Forbord owner bay view bar and grill

“We’re excited. The more you can allow the fishermen o be out there, the more activity we’re going to have around the lake, at all the businesses, lunch, dinner. It just really boosts the economy,” Ramona Forbod, owner of Bay View Bar and Grill, said.

The DNR released a statement saying that in part:

“Conditions this year combined for a slow bite, allowing DNR to re-open an activity that helps the Mille Lacs area economy and is a tradition among many fishing families.”

But it’s only a piece of the problem, locals say.

They’d like to see other fishing rules modified even after twilight fishing is back.

“Try to make everybody happy and more than anything try to make this lake come back,” Joy said.

“I don’t know if this is the silver bullet that some people are looking for, but it’s certainly positive step,” Lundeen said.

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