The Department of Natural Resources today announced the totals from its annual walleye rearing pond harvest and stocking of walleye fingerlings. The DNR’s Fisheries Division and tribal partners stocked nearly 4.7 million walleye fingerlings in more than 110 water bodies located throughout Michigan this spring and summer.
Walleye ponds are a critical component of the DNR’s coolwater fisheries management and have been used extensively since the mid-1970s. More than 30 walleye ponds located throughout Michigan were used this year, and most rely heavily on the support of local sportsmen’s organizations. These groups assist with the ponds’ finances and supply volunteers to help with fertilization, pond maintenance and fish harvest.
Eggs were taken from adult walleye from the Muskegon River and Little Bay De Noc and then hatched at Thompson, Wolf Lake and Platte River state fish hatcheries. A few days after hatching, the larval walleyes were moved from the hatcheries to local walleye ponds. The fish were reared in these ponds for 50 to 60 days where they fed on tiny aquatic animals called zooplankton. The fingerlings were harvested when they reached 1 1/2 to 2 inches long and stocked in public waters. The walleye will grow to legal size within four to five years.
“The many local angling groups that join us in rearing and stocking walleye are extremely valuable,” said Ed Eisch, the DNR’s fish production manager. “These annual efforts allow us to greatly enhance the world-class fishing opportunities available in Michigan.”
Included in the 4.7 million fingerlings stocked were approximately one million fish reared by the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Alliance (CORA) and stocked in U.P. and northern Lower Peninsula waters. CORA operates walleye rearing ponds in the eastern U.P. Eggs for fish reared by CORA were collected from both Little Bay de Noc and the St. Mary’s River.
“For many years now, our partnership with CORA has consistently resulted in high-quality walleye fingerlings that benefit both tribal and non-tribal anglers,” said Eisch. “As it exists, our coolwater production capacity is not able to meet demand for walleye fingerlings, but CORA’s efforts get us closer to meeting that demand.”
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