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State fish hatcheries boost walleye production through extra funding


LAKE MILLS, Wis. (WSAU) - The Department of Natural Resources is putting some extra funding for fish hatcheries to good use.

The fisheries department expects to be able to quadruple their output of large walleye fingerlings this year thanks to changes in Governor Walker's budget. The state's four fish hatcheries just completed a summer release of 2.3 million walleye, 560,000 fish more than originally expected. "This year we're expecting to stock more than 400-thousand large fingerlings. And again, given that they survive 10, 15, 20 times more than the smaller ones, that translates into a lot more adult fish to catch."

Fisheries director Mike Staggs says the Big Eau Pleine was a recipient of the extra small fry. "We were able to another 165,000 fish into that lake this spring already." Those fish are about one to three inches long when they entered the lake, and the DNR expects they can help relieve some of the losses of fish that were incurred earlier this year in the winter fish kill.

Staggs says the department previously didn't have the funds to produce a lot of the larger fish. "They cost 10 to 20 times more to produce, so we've never had the funds produce very many. So we reserve them for situations where nothing else works, and it's really important to have a walleye fishery."

“The fantastic walleye production our hatcheries had so far has not only allowed us to stock more lakes with small fingerlings, but is now giving us a chance to stock as many large fingerlings as we can this fall,” Staggs says.

The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is aiming to produce more larger walleye for stocking in waters to improve fisheries that need help. Staggs says the funding helps them better expand the habitat of the popular game fish. "In many years, our production is committed to other places where people are just as interested in the fishery, so by having these additional fish we're able to come back a year ahead and do something to improve the fishery."

You can learn more about the Walleye Initiative online at the DNR's Website through the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative web pages.