MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the state’s most popular walleye lakes has ended it’s “catch-and-release only” season.

Being allowed to keep walleye on Lake Mille Lacs has been a debate in previous years, with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources co-managing the lake with Chippewa bands that have treaty rights.

Beginning Thursday, anglers will be able to take home one walleye between 21 and 23 inches, or one walleye over 28 inches long.

For some time guides and business owners were worried about the health of the walleye and number of walleye in the lake, but many WCCO talked with said those numbers have come back strong over the past few years, and say the lake is full of walleye.

A certain amount of poundage is allowed to be taken from Mille Lacs in order to give some of the younger fish a chance to grow.

READ MORE: Walleye Fishing On Mille Lacs Returns To Catch-And-Release Only

The owners at Tutt’s Bait and Tackle in Garrison support that, but also believe a year-round limit of one walleye per angler is doable in the future.

“I think there’s a common misconception that, because you can’t keep any or you can only keep one, that there’s not any fish in the lake. And there’s nothing that could be further from the truth,” Jason Bahr said. “You can go out there and definitely have your record day.”

The one-walleye limit will be in effect through November. The DNR will announce winter regulations sometime before that.

John Lauritsen