OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin's lakes will be more heavily stocked with walleyes this year thanks to extra funding from the state and private sector.
Hundreds of thousands of walleye will be stocked in lakes all across Wisconsin, Oshkosh Northwestern Media reported Friday.
In 2012, the state Department of Natural Resources raised 40,000 growth fingerlings for the year. During the first year of a three-year initiative to bolster walleye numbers in 2013, they raised and released more than 440,000 growth and extended-growth fingerlings into 100 lakes across the state.
Over the next two years, 400 different lakes will welcome more than 1.5 million growth and extended-growth fingerling walleyes. The first of the releases will take place near the end of July.
"Our production last year was just a big scramble," said Steve AveLallemant, DNR Northern District Fisheries Supervisor in Rhinelander. "This year we have more time and we can gear up for it and we're expecting increased supply from the private sectors."
The initiative receives $1.2 million annually from the state, with an additional $100,000 from other private and tribal sectors. Most of the money goes toward forage for the fingerlings to eat since they feed on minnows, as well as transportation to the lakes they are stocked.
Growth fingerlings have a low success rate, with just a 1 percent to 2 percent surviving rate in the year after being released. The survival rate for extended-growth fingerlings is roughly 20 percent. Under the initiative, not only are more fish being put into the waters, but a greater majority of those fish also are surviving and becoming harvestable for sportsmen down the road.
The expanded stocking program will help address a downward trend in the population of Wisconsin's prized fish, said DNR Fisheries Chief Ron Bruch.
"One of the goals of the project is to get more walleyes and better walleye fishing across the state," he said.
The DNR is also rewriting the state walleye management plan and the regulations used to manage walleye fishing across the state. The agency has created the Wisconsin Fisheries Advisory Council to help.