By John Lauritsen

GARRISON, Minn. (WCCO) — If you catch a trophy walleye on Lake Mille Lacs this summer, you have to let it go.

Monday, the DNR announced another season of catch and release walleye fishing on Mille Lacs.

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And night fishing for walleyes will not be allowed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., beginning May 14.

The news comes even though walleye spawning numbers are the highest they’ve been in several years. But the DNR and Chippewa Bands that co-manage the lake have yet to set a safe harvest level for the season.

In a statement, Fisheries Chief Don Pereira said, “Implementing a catch and release policy this season is important not only for the sustainable growth of the Mille Lacs’ walleye population, but for area anglers, businesses, and Mille Lacs area communities.”

“People need to be able to keep. I’d be thrilled with two fish. They should be able to keep four fish, any size,” said Linda Eno.

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Eno owns Twin Pines Resort with her husband. They run a launch fishing business that has been successful thanks to summer vacationers. But for the past few years reeling in business has been tough.

“My summer launch fishing business is down 50 percent plus,” said Eno.

Eno said what’s frustrating is that the winter walleye season has been great. Until her customers can keep what they catch, she said she’s not buying the DNR’s numbers.

“You can throw all the numbers you want at those of us that live there and have been dealing with this for 22 years and they mean nothing. Their numbers are guesstimates and full of holes at best,” said Eno.

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The DNR said, unlike the past two summers, no mid-season walleye closures are planned.

John Lauritsen