Mille Lacs angler survey

An angler survey on one of Minnesota's lakesTo keep track of walleye caught, DNR relies on its creel, or angler survey, to monitor fishing on Mille Lacs Lake.

Monitoring by clerks stationed around the lake begins Dec. 1 and continues throughout the winter and summer fishing seasons.

Although there are times when anglers can't target walleye because fishing for them is closed on Mille Lacs, there is incidental catch of walleye because anglers continue to fish for other species. Some of these unintentionally caught walleye die after being caught and released, a condition called hooking mortality.

Based on angler reports to creel clerks, the poundage of walleye and northern pike that die from hooking mortality is calculated and applied against the state's harvest allocation even during times when fishing for that species is closed.

The 2017 safe walleye harvest level established by the DNR and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission was 64,000 lbs., with 44,800 allocated to state anglers and 19,200 for tribal fishing. A provision of the agreement allowed state anglers to catch more fish provided total walleye harvest from tribal fishing and state anglers remains at or below the conservation cap of 75,000 lbs.

Mille Lacs fishing cumulative for 2017


  • State anglers
    • Harvested: 12,886 lbs. (4,865 fish)
    • Hooking mortality estimate: 41,146 lbs. (15,473 fish)
    • Released: 1,134,424 lbs. (517,338 fish)
  • Tribal fishing total: 13,938.5 of 19,200 allowed pounds (7,057 fish)
  • State angler total: 54,050 of 44,800 allowed lbs. (20,338 fish)

Northern Pike

  • State anglers
    • Harvested 21,718 lbs. (5,306 fish)
    • Hooking mortality estimate: 3,856 lbs. (841 fish)
    • Released: 86,625 lbs. (18,760 fish)
  • Tribal fishing total: 2,834.9 of 50,000 allowed pounds (606 fish)
  • State angler total: 25,574 of 50,000 allowed pounds (6,147 fish)

Yellow Perch

  • State anglers
    • Harvested 3,784 lbs. (8,229 fish)
    • Released: 6,548 lbs. (30,696 fish)
  • Tribal fishing total: 794.4 of 101,714 allowed pounds (1,057 fish)
  • State angler total: 3,784 of 135,000 allowed lbs. (8,229 fish)

2017 creel reports

2016 creel reports

What is a creel survey?

Unlike many lakes, a creel survey is done each year on Mille Lacs because there are safe harvest limits on walleye, perch and northern pike.

DNR creel clerks interview anglers, measure fish, keep track of hours fished and count boats, fish houses and recreational craft. This year on Mille Lacs, clerks also are asking if anglers used live or artificial bait.

When the data is analyzed, it provides information about angler effort, harvest, size distribution of fish as well as insight into fishing quality and pressure.