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Friday, August 7, 2015

DNR makes additional changes to attract national bass fishing tournaments to Mille Lacs Lake

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today announced an additional rule change that will help attract national bass fishing tournaments to Mille Lacs Lake – one of the top 10 bass fishing lakes in the country. National bass fishing tournaments could draw thousands of anglers to the region, benefiting resorts and businesses across the Mille Lacs Lake region.

In an adjustment to a rule change announced earlier this week, the DNR will now allow anglers competing in catch-and-release bass tournaments on Mille Lacs Lake to possess and sort their catches, regardless of size. The previous rule allowed anglers to sort only bass that were smaller than 18 inches. The new rule, with the adjustment announced today, will also allow tournament anglers practicing catch-and-release to possess and sort fish that are larger than 18 inches, up to a full limit of six. Outside of catch-and-release tournament competition, bass anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will still be allowed to possess just one bass over 18 inches.

"We are continuing to respond to the economic needs of the Mille Lacs Lake area, and we have heard from tournament anglers that sorting larger fish would do even more to help attract large tournaments," said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. "Attracting several big-name catch-and-release bass tournaments to Mille Lacs will provide a lasting boost to the local economy."

A difference of only a few ounces often determines the winner of a bass tournament. Having the ability to cull allows tournament anglers to keep the biggest fish that weigh the most. The tournament rule change is not expected to harm Mille Lacs bass populations or large fish because the fish caught and sorted in the tournaments are released into the lake once they are weighed. The new rule would only apply to a limited number of tournaments.

 "The new rule will allow catch-and-release tournaments to cull smallmouth bass regardless of size up to the statewide limit of six. We are not talking about all bass tournaments – the exemption in this rule is aimed at national and state caliber bass tournaments, which we are hoping would consider planning events on Mille Lacs Lake," Landwehr said.

Mille Lacs Lake is one of the premiere bass fishing lakes in the country, ranked the 10th-best bass lake in the nation by Bassmaster Magazine. The lake is a world-class smallmouth bass fishery, attracting anglers from all around the United States in search of a lunker ready and willing to put up a fight. The lake also offers largemouth bass.

"Fishing is a major draw for out-of-state visitors, generating $2.8 billion in retail sales and 43,000 Minnesota jobs," said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism. "Eliminating one of the hurdles to attracting more national bass fishing tournaments gives the Mille Lacs area another tool to draw national attention and help improve its economy."

Anglers on other lakes in Minnesota already can sort bass that they catch. 

Anglers not participating in tournaments will be allowed to keep only one bass 18 inches or longer. The new rule would not allow anglers to replace a bass 18 inches or longer even if a larger fish is caught later during that same trip. In addition, anglers could not cull bass once they have caught their limit of six. The no-cull rule will remain in effect for all other fish species on Mille Lacs Lake.

The new rule goes into effect in the next few weeks.

More information about bass fishing is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.

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