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Crescent Lake walleye aren’t reproducing naturally, DNR to host meeting to address issue

Wisconsin DNR

Right now, Crescent Lake has an adequate adult population of walleye coming in slightly below the Wisconsin DNR’s goal of three per acre.

But that’s not what concerns Oneida County fisheries biologist Nathan Lederman.

“What's concerning is the lack of age zeros and age ones. The reproduction that's occurring from those adult walleyes within the lake isn't there, it hasn't been there for the last six years,” said Lederman.

Lederman says reproduction typically fluctuates with a strong class every 3 to 4 four years.

Not having that in double that amount of time is what’s prompting the Wisconsin DNR, Sokaogon Chippewa Community, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission to take action.

The Wisconsin DNR is hosting a meeting Tuesday, June 4 for lake groups and users of the walleye fishery to discuss options for addressing the issue.

“I feel a collaborative approach is important. You get a lot of different thoughts on management actions that can be taken as well as get buy in from the users,” said Lederman. “It doesn't feel like something's just ‘Hey, we're just telling you what to do.’ They're actually involved in the process and can have input that leads to better management decisions.”

Lederman says the DNR has already done some stocking in the last couple of years.

In 2021, Crescent Lake was stocked with small fingerlings that didn’t do well. Last year, extended growth, larger walleye were stocked in hopes they would do better.

This issue is not unique to Crescent Lake. Several lakes in the Northwoods have seen their walleye fisheries decline in recent years.

Like those other lakes, Lederman says habitat loss, climate change, or changes with other species of fish could all be playing a role in Crescent Lake.

“What is the silver bullet that's really impacting the walleye fishery out there? It's currently unknown,” he said.

The meeting is June 4 at the Rhinelander DNR Service Center on Sutliff Avenue at 6:00 p.m.

You can also join virtually via zoom. People are encouraged to register online.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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