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Warm weather earlier in the spring may be contributing to walleye decline over time


Reeling in a walleye is a dream for many anglers across the state. On Lake Du Bay, they haven't been seeing many, which isn't looking good for the spring.

Bruce Hintz, owner of Jr's Tackle and Bait shop, said that even trying to fish has been a hassle. Hintz said, "Not a lot of big ones. Actually, it's really hard to get on the ice. It's difficult to get there, it's a hit and miss."

Low numbers are also hurting Hintz's business, since less anglers are coming through. Hintz said, "It's been really slow. I don't get the business from the guys coming in here to buy the minnows and stuff because they're not going."

Officials from the Wisconsin DNR say that the weather has been causing a chain reaction that affects how young walleye get their food, which leads to less of them living to adulthood.

Zach Feiner, a research scientist with the DNR, said, "The algae may bloom and be mistimed with the production of zooplankton, and there's no food for the zooplankton so they don't survive, and then when the baby fish hatch, there's no zooplankton around to eat and they don't survive."

He says that climate change is to blame, and while no one person can fix that, he said that there's a lot that anglers can do to help the walleye population where they live.

Feiner said, "Making sure we're controlling walleye harvest if necessary, preventing the movement of invasive species, things like zebra mussels for example."

Even though there's less of them on the lake, Hintz said there's still walleye to catch if you know where to look.

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