Better walleye fishing coming to Wisconsin - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Better walleye fishing coming to Wisconsin

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Better walleye fishing could be coming to a lake near you. Governor Walker announced a major initiative on Wednesday to invest more money and resources into walleye to increase numbers across the state.

"Walleye fishing in Wisconsin is pretty good right now," points out Northland Adventures' Dave Carlson.

But after an announcement by Governor Walker Wednesday morning, it's about to get even better.  The DNR got the go-ahead to use more money and more resources to grow the walleye population.  But it's not exactly a quick process.

"We get the eggs then they turn into fry.  So the fry are 7 to 10 days old.  Then we take the fry and grow those out to small fingerlings and that's in June or so.  And in June, typically what we've been doing is stocking those fish in our lakes," explains DNR Fisheries Supervisor Bob Hujik.

We may not begin to see significant results for four or five years.  But the hope is these steps will mean more walleyes in the water.

The DNR says walleye fishing has always been very strong here in Wisconsin.  But interest from anglers has really started to dwindle the last few years because of decreasing numbers of walleyes in the lakes.  It hopes Wednesday's announcement will turn that right back around.

But not everybody agrees with the governor's plan.

"This is short-term band-aid type of approach to the real problem and the real problem is to provide habitat for natural reproduction of fish," Carlson says.  "In the end, that is going to be the most economical to do it that way."

"Habitat improvement in our big lakes is key and that can and probably does have a big impact on our walleye reproduction and our recruitment," Hujik agrees.  "By stocking and getting a couple year-classes in of these fish, we'll be in good shape down the road."

The plan is to produce more than 500,000 large walleye fingerlings each year by 2016. That's more than four times as many as they currently produce. The DNR says lakes in our area that are on the short list for stocking include Long Lake, Otter Lake, Sand Lake and Island Lake, but final decisions haven't yet been made.

The governor's office says it will cost the state a first-time payment of about $10 million and then another $2.5 million every year for the foreseeable future.  That money will mostly come from the General Purpose Revenue Fund, but has not been accounted for in the budget yet.  It will be introduced soon to the Joint Finance Committee. 

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