Fall walleye surveys to begin soon across the state

As DNR walleye surveys get underway later this fall, everyone is asked to use caution when fishing near the electrofishing boats; those wading will be asked to exit the water when a boat approaches and during electrofishing work.

Beginning in late September through early October, anglers throughout the state could see Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel conducting walleye recruitment surveys.

While the surveys are a tool that helps fisheries managers determine how many walleye either were produced naturally or survived stocking in 2022, DNR Fisheries Management Biologist Mark Tonello said surveys won’t be conducted on any Cadillac area lakes in the coming weeks.

After a multiple-year hiatus, both Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell were stocked with walleye this season. Lake Cadillac received 54,000 walleye fingerlings while Lake Mitchell received 117,000.

Before the 2022 stocking of walleye, the last time Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell were stocked fully with walleye fingerlings was in 2018. Lake Mitchell, however, received 50,000 fingerlings when there was a surplus in 2019.

Using electrofishing boats, crews will survey the shallow areas near the shoreline of lakes at night to capture young-of-year walleye. On larger lakes, two or more electrofishing crews using separate boats may operate at the same time to cover more area.

The crews will work both on lakes that have been stocked with walleye and lakes that have not. Again, no Cadillac area lakes will be targeted.

“Conducting surveys on both stocked and unstocked lakes can affect decisions about future walleye research and stocking efforts and give valuable insight into the status of the younger walleye in the system,” DNR Fisheries Division Biologist Emily Martin said.

Biologists also will collect and keep a sample of young-of-year walleye from stocked lakes to determine whether the primary source of reproduction is natural or stocked. Many walleye that are stocked are marked with oxytetracycline, a chemical marker that can be observed within captured fish by using a microscope with an ultraviolet light source in a laboratory setting.

Some surveys will be conducted collaboratively with tribal agencies, and tribal natural resources departments also will be conducting surveys independently of the DNR.

Everyone is urged to use caution when fishing near the electrofishing boats, and those wading will be asked to exit the water when a boat approaches and during electrofishing work. Crews will be using bright lights to illuminate the water around the boats and running a generator on board, which may make it difficult to hear and talk with anyone on shore.

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