DNR Continues Walleye Planting
Walleyes are back and more are on the way
DNR Fisheries Biologist Mark Tonello revealed that this summer 1-2” fingerling size walleyes will be planted in our lakes. Lake Mitchell will receive about 130,000 and Lake Cadillac 60,000 which works out to about 50 fish per acre. Tonello noted that raising walleye is like farming in that the final product depends on many variables so it's possible that the number of fingerlings desired might not be available.
Walleye fingerlings are raised by Mason County Walleye Association in ponds. The MCWA is a non-profit group that raises walleye cooperatively with the DNR a their own expense. Any support that Lake Mitchell riparians might want to offer would be appreciated. Their website is www.masoncowalleyeassn.org.
Although electric shocking surveys conducted in November of 2005, failed to show any traces of that year’s fingerling planting, a few anglers caught small walleye indicating that some fish survived.
This spring 7.5 million walleye fry were released at several points around Lakes Mitchell and Cadillac; fry are about the size of a grain of rice. While many may have ended up in the stomachs of pan fish, it is hoped that some will eventually become adults.
The DNR secured twenty thousand walleye, averaging four to five inches in length, from
hatcheries in October and November of 2006. This planting may be more successful than earlier efforts because the larger walleye may escape most panfish. In addition, bass, which readily prey on
walleye, tend to become less active when water temperatures cool in the fall.
Walleye plantings will continue in 2007 with ½ inch fingerlings in the spring and then, if they are available, 4-5 inch fish in the fall.
Probably the biggest obstacle to reestablishing a walleye fishery is the huge population of bass. A Wisconsin biologists’ study to determine which among pike, muskellunge, walleye, as well as large and smallmouth consumed the most immature walleye, found that largemouth bass consumed significantly more walleye than the other game fish.
Longtime residents of the lakes will recall that prior to about 1990, there was not a significant largemouth bass fishery. As the numbers of largemouth increased in the 1990s the walleyes became less plentiful. The largemouth’s propensity to prey on young walleye may make it difficult to maintain quality fishing for both species in the same lake.