AITKIN, MN--Anglers who fish Minnesota's Lake Mille Lacs this summer can help themselves and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by participating in a walleye hooking mortality study. The DNR is fine-tuning its estimate of how many Mille Lacs walleyes survive catch and release. To do so, fisheries biologists hope to collect 1,200 fish from anglers between now and early fall. Study fish will be released into large holding nets that extend to the bottom of the lake. Biologists will observe the fish for five consecutive days before releasing surviving walleyes into the 132,000-acre lake. A DNR representative will meet study participants at the lake and provide them with a portable livewell, signal horn, data sheet and a special form that allows for the temporary possession of a fish that would otherwise be illegal due to length limit regulations. Volunteers are also eligible for a free tackle package donated by Gander Mountain. Study findings will be available next spring, and will be used to help calculate the lake's safe harvest level and other management data. To date, volunteer anglers have provided biologists with about 100 walleyes. Previous DNR research suggests 6 percent of walleyes larger than 13 inches and 10 percent of walleyes smaller than 13 inches die from being caught and released. The current study is designed to take into account common angling techniques on Mille Lacs as well as the effects of water temperature and water depth on hooking mortality. To participate in the study, call the DNR Aitkin Area Fisheries Office at (218) 927-3751 or e-mail Keith Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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