Fisheries

Fisheries

We will provide information on these Fisheries pages dealing with the fishing issues on our lakes (see the menu bars to the left under Fisheries). We will provide statistical information about recent lake fishery netting surveys. We have information on the Walker Area Walleye Coalition and other fishing information.

We hope you find these pages enlightening. Let us know what other information you would like to see here! !


DNR Lake Management Plans

Our Fisheries Committee meets with the Minnesota DNR, Walker Area Office, at least annually to discuss the DNR Fisheries Management Plans for each of our lakes. The Minnesota DNR creates plans to help manage the fisheries on each lake. The plans discuss a number of items including results of lake surveys, netting information, long range goals, operational plans and many other items.

We meet with the DNR in December and/or FebruaryMarch timeframes to discuss the fishery management plans for our four lakes. We work together with the DNR to make changes to the plans and discuss stocking and netting recommendations. We continue to be actively involved in the Walker Area Walleye Coalition to try to ensure the future of the walleye fishery in our lakes by participating with them in discussions with the DNR about these plans.

Select the lake name on the menu bar on the left to see the fisheries management plan for that lake.

2019 Update

The DNR completed surveys on both Little Boy and Wabedo Lakes the summer of 2018. Below is a brief summary of the findings from that survey, and also the resulting fish management plan going forward. The full reports for both Little Boy and Wabedo are located on the in the “Fisheries” menu on the right.

Walleye

In 2018 a new slot went into effect on both Little Boy and Wabedo. (18”-26” with a possession limit of 4, one over 26”). Similar slot limits have been used on other lakes in the region,and have proven to be successful in the following areas.

  1. Increased number of walleyes captured in gill nets during surveys.
  2. Increased numbers of large walleyes. Large walleyes are more effective spawners than small/young walleyes.
  3. Improved recruitment. Recruitment is defined as the number of walleye living to their first birthday. Improved recruitment is believed to be the result of the more effective spawning of large walleye.

NOTE: There is some reduction in overall harvest, but an increase in catch rate. (there are fewer walleye kept, but more caught)

Walleye Stocking Definitions:

  • A littoral acre is defines as a depth of 15’ or less. Little Boy Lake has more littoral acres than Wabedo (466 vs 295). Little Boy will be receiving more fry because it has more littoral acres. As a standard practice, the DNR typically sets stocking based on littoral acres.
  • Fry - Newly hatched fish typically 1/4” in length. They are distributed into lakes in springtime of the same year they hatch.
  • Fingerlings - 4”-6” in length. These fish are reared over the summer and stocked in the fall. The fish are released the fall of the same year they were hatched.


On Little Boy Lake the DNR will stock 1,000 fry per littoral acre (466,000) on even numbered years. This is a decrease from the 2,000 fry per littoral acre that were stocked in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The DNR expects natural production to increase as a result of the 18”-26” protected slot. If stocking were continued at the previous high level, the forage base may be overwhelmed, leading to reduced recruitment and slower growth rates. Overall, the walleye population on Little Boy is in good shape. The numbers of fish are fairly close to historical averages. Slot limits on other area lakes have proven to be effective. If the slot limit is as effective on Little Boy as expected, there is potential to develop an outstanding walleye fishery.

On Lake Wabedo the DNR will start stocking 1,000 fry per littoral acre (295,000) on even numbered years beginning in 2020. This is a fairly major change in stocking strategy. Starting in 2006 the DNR has been stocking 590 lbs of fingerlings in Wabedo on even number years. No fry have been stocked in Wabedo since 2004. The walleye results from the 2015 and 2018 surveys were poor in regard to numbers, recruitment and growth rates, leading the DNR to conclude that fingerling stocking hasn’t been successful. Overall the walleye population on Wabedo is NOT in good shape. The two most recent surveys in 2015 (2.67 fish per net) and 2018 (2 fish per net) found some of the lowest walleye numbers on record. However, the good news is that there have been instances in past surveys of very low numbers, and each time the population recovered (1985/2.08 fish per net, 1993/1.83 fish per net, 2005/1.58 fish per net. The combination of the new protected slot and change in stocking strategy have good potential to improve walleye numbers.

Northern Pike

The existing special regulation for both Little Boy and Wabedo will remain unchanged for now. This special regulation has been in effect since 2003, and has been determined by the DNR to have been effective in improving size structure.

The protected slot is 24”-36”. Possession limit of 3, with only 1 over 36”.

The DNR may consider changing the regulation in the future to conform to the new, uniform, zone regulation. Before any such change can be made, the DNR will provide an opportunity for public comment. The North/Central regulation is a 22”-26” protected slot. Possession limit of 3, with not more that 2 over 26”. The recent lake survey indicates that our lakes are not experiencing the problem of large numbers of “hammer handle” northerns. This problem is common around the state of MN, but survey results indicate that the size structure of northerns in our lakes is in good condition. The DNR does strongly recommend harvesting small northerns, and protecting larger fish.

Muskies

Little Boy and Wabedo Lakes are included in a broad multi-lake Muskie diet study. Brian Herwig, a research scientist in Bemidji is leading the study. You may have noticed the nets that were out on both lakes over the weekend of the fishing opener. These nets were part of the study. They are inserting “chips” below the dorsal fin that gather information. These “chips” can be scanned to retrieve the information when the fish is caught again. They will be netting again in 2020 and retrieving some of this information. Total muskies netted were 43 in Little Boy and 16 in Wabedo. They felt that the cool weather contributed to the low number caught in Wabedo. They also caught other fish in their nets. The largest Pike was 36”. Many walleye in the 18”-26” protected slot, and also many greater than 26” were netted. Walleye numbers were better in Little Boy than Wabedo. Quality Crappie with many 14” caught and good numbers at the 9” size. Sunfish had good size and numbers. They also caught a few Burbot (eel pout), which is an indicator of overall good water quality.

DNR Technical Terms

There are some technical terms and abbreviations used in the DNR reports. I will try to explain some of them here (give me a call if you have other questions).

CPUE - Catch Per Unit Effort - a measure of fish taken in a defined effort. For these reports it is number of fish per net for the netting survey results.

PSD - Proportional Stock Density - a measure of the size stucture of a population. It represents the percentage of fish attractive to anglers.

RSD - Relative Stock Density - proportion of fish to any designated size group of fish. RSD is generally followed by a subscript indicating the size group (S-stock, Q-quality, P-preferred, M-memorable, T-trophy). Generally, RSD-P is used to measure the preferred or larger size fish.

WR - Relative Weight - is a measure of body condition. The measured weight of a fish is compared to an established standard for a fish of the same length. Values greater than 100 indicate the fish weighs more than the standard and values less than 100 indicate the fish weighs less than the standard. Average values close to 100 indicate fish populations are in balance with their food supply. Fish with values less than 85 are underweight.

NOP PSL - Northern Pike Protected Slot Limit (both Little Boy and Wabedo have a 24-36" protected slot limit for Northern Pike)

BLC-Black Crappie; BLG-Bluegill; LMB-Largemouth Bass; NOP-Northern Pike; MUE-Musky; SMB-Smallmouth Bass; YEP-Yellow Perch

For additional explanation of terminology and a full glossary visit the DNR Fisheries Website

Growing Walleyes

We found the following facts from a blog site very interesting.

  • It stated that the adult female walleye will drop 50,000 to 300,000 eggs (average 175,000) in one night!
  • The fertilized eggs will drop between the rocks. There, predators will have great difficulty reaching them, so they can mature safely. Over 25% of all the eggs will hatch. Walleye do not stay over the eggs to protect them, instead they leave right after spawning is over.
  • Depending on water temperature, fry will emerge from the eggs after just one or two weeks. They will feed off the egg sac for a few days.
  • One in 1,000 fry will survive the spring and summer to reach fingerling size, and between 5% and 10% (7.5% average) of fingerlings will survive to catch able size.

So to summarize, if the average female drops 175,000 eggs on a rocky bottom, 43,750 eggs will hatch, 43 of them will survive to fingerling, and 3.2 of them will make it to catchable size.

Let's do all we can to protect this resource for future generations! !