By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Walleye fishing on Mille Lacs could resume as early as December.

Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday he is insisting that the state’s largest walleye lake be open for ice fishing.

The state Department of Natural Resources shut down walleye fishing on Mille Lacs in August after discovering a dangerous drop in the walleye population.

If the December fishing happens, it could be a tremendous boost for beleaguered area businesses along Minnesota’s premiere summer walleye lake.

“It’s crucial that we have a good winter fishing season for Mille Lacs,” Dayton said. “And I will insist that there be one.”

The state abruptly shut down walleye fishing after finding the walleye population had dropped to dangerously low levels.

Business activity dropped right along with it. Now, resort owners on Mille Lacs say ice fishing would be great news.

“January is my busiest month of the year with ice fishing,” said Linda Eno, owner of Twin Pines Resort in Mille Lacs. “Ice fishing is a big deal around here.”

Mille Lacs ice fishing is not yet a done deal.

The DNR must first sample the number of fish in the lake, and complete an environmental survey.

But Dayton says he’s asked for results ASAP.

“It’s crucial that there be a season and that it be as generous as possible in terms of limits and opportunities as possible,” he said.

Pat Kessler