October 1, 2013
WOODRUFF, Wis. - Public meetings are set for mid-October in Hayward, Rhinelander and Oconomowoc to discuss Wisconsin's walleye fisheries and get people's opinions on what considerations the state should use in coming years to decide how to allocate the increased number of large walleye for stocking made possible under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.
The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is boosting production of larger walleye fingerlings, like this one stocked out last week from the Gov. Tommy G. Thompson Fish Hatchery in Spooner.
"There are a lot of lakes that can really benefit from the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative," says Steve Avelallemant, longtime lead fish supervisor in northern Wisconsin for the Department of Natural Resources. "We want to know what considerations we should use to decide where to stock these larger walleye."
The public meetings are among the initial efforts by DNR's fisheries management program to engage a broad range of walleye interests in the future management of the state's walleye population.
"This fall and winter we plan to engage as many walleye interests as possible, including meeting with the tribes, fishing clubs and businesses, and making an online survey available to everyone," he says.
Avelallemant says the public meetings will feature a presentation on current walleye populations, the walleye initiative, and walleye management. People will be asked for their suggestions on what considerations DNR should use in its strategy for stocking walleye in 2014 and beyond.
Considerations might be biological factors, like what is the level of natural reproduction in a water, or economic considerations, like stocking fish in waters that are an important tourism draw locally and regionally, what other angling opportunities exist, or other considerations, Avelallemant says.
Gov. Scott Walker challenged DNR to develop a plan to increase the number of walleye in Wisconsin to benefit all users and the legislature responded by providing significant additional funding for use by state, tribal and private fish hatcheries to by state, tribal and private fish hatcheries to produce more large walleye for stocking. There will be $8.2 million for infrastructure improvements and $1.3 million each year for annual operating costs to expand production at DNR state fish hatcheries. Production should increase from 60,000 to 120,000 large walleye fingerlings a year to well over 500,000 by 2016.
These larger (4- to 8-inch fish) are more expensive to produce but survive to catchable size at a much higher rate than fry or small fingerlings, which have traditionally been stocked, because they are too large for predators to eat, Avelallemant says.
After the budget initiative passed in June, DNR shifted more of its walleye production from small fingerling walleyes that are 1 to 2 inches to the larger fingerlings that are 4 to 8 inches. Those larger fish are being stocked out now based on the requests biologists submitted earlier for fish for stocking. The increased production is allowing DNR this year to go deeper in filling the list of requests made and providing more fish.
The best walleye fisheries in Wisconsin are self-sustaining through natural reproduction - 84 percent of all walleye caught come from natural reproduction waters - and stocking those waters would be counterproductive and a waste of fish, Avelallemant says.
But there are waters where DNR hopes that stocking more, larger walleye can help improve the walleye populations and provide walleye fishing opportunities that otherwise wouldn't exist.
The public meetings in October will help guide allocation of fish stocked out next year and in coming years.
The meetings are set 7 to 9:30 p.m., for the following dates and locations:
Information shared at the public meetings will be posted to the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative Web pages in advance of the meetings and people who are not able to attend the meetings can submit comments online. From that page, people also are able to subscribe for free email updates or mobile alerts with the latest walleye initiative news. Scroll the list of subscription topics to reach "Fishing Updates" and place a check by the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative listing.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Hewett 608-267-7501 or Mike Staggs, director of fisheries, 608-267-0796