In hopes of attracting larger tournaments that will generate more revenue for local economies, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) will allow culling of bass at Mille Lacs. It already is legal in other lakes around the state.
"This is one of the ways DNR is actively responding to the economic needs of the Mille Lacs Lake area," said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. "The change has potential economic benefits and will not hurt bass populations."
John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, added, "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."
The lake already is known nationally as one of the best bass fisheries, especially for smallmouths, with Bassmaster Magazine ranking it 10th in its top 100. But a regulation that forced competitors to keep their first six bass deterred tournament circuits, especially larger ones, from going there.
The rule restricting an angler to one bass of 18 inches or longer remains in effective. But now a tournament fisherman can cull smaller bass until he puts a limit in his livewell. Then he must stop fishing.
"A difference of only a few ounces often determines the winner of a bass tournament," MDNR said. "Having the ability to cull allows tournament anglers to keep the biggest fish that weigh the most."