dNR fish studies
A two-stage, stratified random roving creel survey was conducted on Little Boy and Wabedo lakes, Cass County, Minnesota from May 9 to September 30, 2020 to evaluate fishing pressure, catch, harvest, angler demographics, and to aid in evaluation of the Walleye 18-26 inch Protected Slot Limit (PSL) implemented in 2018.
The regulation was implemented to protect mature females and increase the spawning biomass, improve population size structure which had declined over time, and produce more consistent and potentially stronger natural year classes. The full report can be found here. The following summarizes the survey results:
Presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting by Doug Schultz, DNR, this report explains the correlation between stocking and recruitment (survival of fish over several years). It takes elements out of the fisheries management report and surveys and adds interpretation bullets with the hypothesis of increased fry stocking doesn’t translate to increased recruitment.
One purpose of electrofishing studies is to look at Young of the Year (YOY) walleye. YOY is defined as walleye that were born in the spring of the same year and made it through their first summer. Electrofishing studies were completed on Little Boy Lake on September 9, 2020 and Little Boy and Wabedo Lakes on September 23, 2019.
LIttle Boy Lake
There was no stocking of walleye fry in Little Boy Lake in 2019, therefore all of the YOY found were the result of natural reproduction. The DNR will stock walleye fry in Little Boy in the spring of 2020, and on even years going forward according to the current DNR lake management plan.
The 2020 fall electrofishing study was not completed on Wabedo due to mechanical/weather issues. The previous electrofishing study on Wabedo targeting YOY was in 2002. Going forward there will be annual fall electrofishing studies to evaluate fry stocking and natural reproduction. No walleye fry have been stocked on Wabedo since 2004. Walleye fingerlings were stocked on even years from 2006 - 2018.
The 2019 electrofishing study found zero YOY walleye. The DNR indicates that one cannot conclude anything based on one study. Some lakes do not test accurately for electrofishing, and Wabedo hasn’t had such a study since 2002, so we don’t have anything to compare. We’ll know more about YOY survival after several YOY electroshocking reports, and also as the fish get big enough to be caught in gill net studies.