The state Department of Natural Resources is starting the next stage of an effort to boost Wisconsin’s walleye population.
Trucks from state fish hatcheries have started rolling out to lakes across Wisconsin. DNR Fisheries Director Mike Staggs says they expect to stock between 300,000 and 400,000 large walleye fingerlings by the end of the season.
The larger fish, which range in size from about six to eight inches, have a much higher survival rate than the one to two inch fingerlings the DNR typically raises and releases each year. Only about one percent of the smaller fingerlings tend to grow and thrive in the lakes they are introduced in to, while Staggs says the larger fish can boast survival rates as high as 20 percent.
AUDIO: Mike Staggs, DNR (:18)
The stocking efforts are part of the state’s $13 million Wisconsin Walleye Initiative. Funding was included in the state budget to help improve the state’s status as a destination for anglers from across the country. The DNR increased its own production of large fingerlings earlier this summer, while funds are also available to purchase fish from private hatcheries.
While more walleye will be around, Staggs notes it will be a three to five years before anglers will be able to take advantage of their presence. He says the program is “really a long term investment in fishing in Wisconsin.”