CADILLAC — After an above-average year for the walleye rearing for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, one Cadillac area lake got roughly 50,000 unexpected new residents.
Late last week, the DNR planted 50,000 walleye fingerlings into Lake Mitchell when there was a surplus of the fish species after the agency filled all the inland lake prescriptions for 2019, according to DNR Fisheries Management Biologist Mark Tonello.
"We had a really good year rearing walleye. It is an off-year (planting walleye) for Cadillac and Mitchell, but we were able to stock everything we wanted to stock and had a surplus," he said. "(Lake) Mitchell is a lake that is capable of taking more walleye."
When it comes to the DNR's efforts in getting the walleye to plant in the various inland lakes throughout the state, Tonello said it very much like farming because you never know what you will get. Some years are great and others are not. He said the fingerlings planted last week were between 1.3-1.4 inches in length.
Tonello said no fish were added to Lake Cadillac but both Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell are on track to have a walleye planting next season. He said Lake Mitchell will get at least 125,000 fingerlings planted next season if not more while Lake Cadillac will get roughly half of what Mitchell gets.
He also said he is not worried about overstocking in Lake Mitchell.
"Once (walleye) reach 15 inches most people keep them. We are just thrilled the walleye fishery is doing well and we hope to keep it going," he said.
The DNR produces tens of millions of fish for stocking annually including cool water and coldwater species. Coolwater species include walleye, muskellunge, northern pike and sturgeon. Coldwater species include trout and salmon. The DNR doesn't rear warm water fish such as bass and panfish because they are prolific breeders and can sustain viable populations without stocking. Instead, the DNR uses fishing regulations to manage their populations, according to the DNR.
Many factors go into determining where fish are stocked including the current habitat, forage and predators and/or competitors of the waterbody, according to the DNR. If a lake isn't stocked by the DNR it's probably because it maintains its fish populations naturally.