By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Lake Mille Lacs has welcomed fishing enthusiasts for decades, but anglers can now catch and keep one coveted walleye.

Anglers on Lake Mille Lacs are easing into fishing season 100 miles from the bustle of the metro.

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“For me, fishing is a passion. It’s also good medicine,” fisherman Justin Roberts said. “We plan on going out and finding the elusive Minnesota walleye.”

Locals say it’s not difficult to find a walleye in Mille Lacs, but since 2015 anglers have not been able to keep them per DNR regulations.

“It’s the fish that everybody wants to catch, you know?” Roberts said.

“I find it kind of weird that you can’t keep what you’re catching, but they gotta do what they gotta do to keep the lake, right?” fisherman Tom Linquist said.

Until the end of May, anglers are allowed to keep one walleye.

RELATED: DNR: Anglers Allowed To Keep Mille Lacs Walleye In May

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That’s something hotel owner Tim Potoczny hopes will help boost business at McQuoid’s Inn. He and other owners on the lake say the walleye catch and release regulation hurt their business.

“If there was a way to get a multi-year as a business owner, a multi-year plan out there that would go a long way,” Potoczny said.

Some resort owners say they’re noticing an uptick in business since the walleye regulations changed.

“I think it’s important that we come out and support our local communities – get out and spend some money,” Roberts said.

But most tell us they would like to see even fewer restrictions in the future on walleye fishing so their businesses and the enthusiasm around the sport can flourish.

“If you really want to catch a lot of fish and have the chance at a special trophy fish, this is by far the No. 1 destination in the state,” Potoczny said.

Starting May 31, the catch and release regulations for walleye will kick back in until late fall when the DNR announces the regulations for winter.

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If you’re interested in catching a walleye, many of the Mille Lacs lake resorts offer outings that provide the boat, guide and gear.

Erin Hassanzadeh