(MARTINSVILLE) - Walleye production at Indiana's state fish hatcheries has rebounded after suffering a weather-related setback last year.
Every spring, DNR workers net adult walleyes at Brookville Lake in southeast Indiana, where eggs are collected from the fish and fertilized. The fish are released back into the lake, and the eggs are transported to Cikana State Fish Hatchery near Martinsville for incubation.
Fish incubated in the spring are then stocked in Indiana lakes throughout the same year.
According to Cikana manager Dan Jessup, unseasonably warm temperatures last spring resulted in one of the worst walleye egg collections on record, and the state was unable to meet some of its 2012 stocking goals.
This year, however, the annual collection of walleye eggs was a success. That's welcome news for anglers and fisheries biologists.
"By 2016, the walleyes we stock this year will be well above the 14-inch size limit and providing some great walleye action," Jessup said.
The DNR's fish stocking program enhances fishing opportunities where natural limitations prevent certain fish from reproducing or surviving.
The walleye is Indiana's most popular stocked fish.
Although native to Indiana, walleye distribution and abundance was limited until annual stockings were developed in the 1970s. According to DNR biologists, natural reproduction of walleyes is insufficient to maintain populations in most of Indiana. Hatchery production offsets the shortfall.
Indiana typically stocks about 22 million walleye fry that are 4 days old. An additional 1 million walleye fingerlings are stocked in June after being raised to 1 to 2 inches. Six- to 8-inch walleyes are produced for stocking in the fall at lakes where fry or June fingerlings fail to establish a fishery.
"While 2013 did not produce the highest number of adult walleyes we've ever collected, nor the most eggs, fish size and egg quality were excellent," Jessup said. "All lakes that receive newly hatched fry have been stocked and we are on target to grow enough 1-2 inch and 6-8 inch fingerlings to meet those stocking needs as well."
A list of lakes stocked with walleye by the DNR is at dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/3279.htm.
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